Preventing thrush 1260x542

Preventing thrush

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Naturopath Jennifer McLennan recommends her best natural solutions for preventing vaginal thrush.

Vaginal candida, otherwise known as thrush, affects many women throughout their lives. Thrush can be irritating, uncomfortable and has a tendency to reoccur, making it frustrating to control. Causes of thrush are varied, but with a few simple natural remedies and lifestyle choices, it can be treated and prevented.

General preventative tips

Choose natural fibres. Cotton clothing and underwear decrease humidity in the genital area and help prevent yeast from thriving. The vulva actually sweats more than any other part in the body. Avoid wearing pantyhose, synthetic fibres and tight clothing. Make sure you wash cotton underwear in hot water; swimwear and other non-cotton underwear that cannot withstand heat should be hung out to dry in the sun.

Avoid irritants. Irritants can include deodorants, soaps, chemicals, sprays and douches in and around the vaginal area. These irritants can alter the vaginal environment. Try to choose sanitary items and toilet papers that are not deodorised and don’t have fragrance.

Decrease the spread. Wipe from front to back when going to the toilet, as this may help to prevent Candida albicans, the yeast that causes thrush, from spreading from the anus to the vagina. Daily washing of the anal-vulval area is also important.

Lifestyle preventative tips

Stay healthy. Keeping a healthy immune system is vital in fighting infection, including infection that may occur in the vagina. Here are some tips to keeping the immune system fighting fit:

  • Hit the hay. A lack of sleep may impair the immune system. The average adult needs 7-9 hours per night.
  • Bust stress. Anxiety, tension and low mood can release “stress hormones” from the adrenal glands. These stress hormones, called corticosteroids, are masters at suppressing certain cells in the immune system, leaving us more susceptible to infection. Click here to read our blog about managing stress.
  • Kick the sugar habit.  Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates where possible: in excess, both suppress the immune system. Opt for nutrient-rich whole grains and cereals instead.
  • Keep it colourful. Choose foods that are vibrant in colour, including a variety of seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables. This will provide a range of minerals and vitamins that will arm the immune system. Key nutrients include zinc, vitamin A and antioxidants.

Natural preventative solutions

  • Probiotics. Supplementation with probiotics has been shown to increase colonisation of “good” bacteria in the gastro-intestinal tract and in the vagina, helping to prevent the overgrowth of Candida albicans. A study has found that women who supplement or eat probiotic-rich foods have less Candida albicans colonisation in the vagina.
  • Echinacea, an immune system stimulating herb, has anti-microbial actions. Echinacea is helpful for any overgrowth of “bad” bugs and is good for the immune system that’s dragging the chain.
References available on request