If you've ever experienced a yeast infection, you know just how painful and frustrating the entire process can be. And although it may feel uncomfortable or slightly embarrassing to consult a doctor about your symptoms, know they're actually pretty common.
Three out of four women will experience a yeast infection at least once in their lives, according to the Office of Women's Health, and almost half experience more than one throughout their lives.
While you're no doubt eager to find relief fast, before you try a home remedy or turn to any foods for yeast infections, consult your doctor for safe and proper treatment.
What Are Yeast Infections, and What Causes Them?
A common fungal infection, yeast infections can cause irritation, discharge or discomfort in and around the vagina. Other symptoms may include a burning sensation, redness, swelling or a rash.
Just like your gut, your vagina contains a healthy balance of yeast and bacteria. This bacteria works to keep the yeast from overgrowing. But when the balance gets thrown off, a yeast infection can occur. This may happen for several reasons including sexual intercourse, antibiotic use, pregnancy, uncontrolled diabetes or birth control use.
While there are some measures you can take to prevent a vaginal yeast infection from occurring in the first place, it's important to consult your doctor if you begin to experience symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic. Wearing underwear with a cotton crotch may reduce your risk of yeast infections. Avoiding tight clothes, scented feminine products, unnecessary antibiotics and douching may also help prevent future infections.
Treating a Yeast Infection
Considering this infection affects a pretty intimate part of the body, you may feel inclined to try some home remedies first. But before trying any DIY treatments, consult a doctor, as infections can be caused by different types of fungus, according to the Mayo Clinic. Your doctor may perform a pelvic exam or test the secretions in order to pinpoint exactly which fungus caused your infection and the best course of treatment.
Most often, your doctor will recommend an anti-fungal medication, which usually clears up the infection in under a week. Depending on the type of fungus and severity of infection, she may also prescribe an oral medication.
Foods for Yeast Infections
Currently, there's no evidence to show that eating certain foods — like garlic or yogurt — can help treat a yeast infection, according to the Mayo Clinic. While there are foods that you can integrate into your lifestyle to generally help fight inflammation — like tomatoes, olive oil, green leafy veggies and fatty fish, according to Harvard Health Publishing — eating these won't actually help treat an infection.
Cranberry juice is often rumored to help prevent yeast infections. While it may be useful in helping prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs), it has not been shown to help cure yeast infections, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center.