Approximately 75% of women suffer from yeast infections. Yeast infections can often be mistaken for bacterial vaginosis which has similar symptoms.
Yeast infections often cause itchiness, burning or discomfort, thick discharge, pain or discomfort during sexual penetration and redness or swelling.
A change in the balance of hormones in your body, especially estrogen, increases your chances of getting a yeast infection. So does this mean you should steer clear of the pill?
Hormonal birth control
Birth control pills comprise of synthetic progesterone and estrogen. The pill works by stopping the hormones that trigger ovulation. This is a very effective method of birth control, yet unfortunately for some women, the pill alters the pH in the vagina too much and therefore creates an environment where yeast can flourish.
If you do suffer from yeast infections due to birth control, it could simply be a matter of changing the type of contraceptive pill you are taking. Some are lower in estrogen than others and will be better for you if you’re prone to yeast infections. Contraceptive pills which are known to be lower in estrogen include Yaz, Yasmin, Mircette and Alesse. Another option is to use the mini pill which is progestin only and does not contain estrogen at all. The mini pill isn’t as effective as the combination pill but it is popular among women who cannot tolerate estrogen or who are breastfeeding. Pills with higher levels of estrogen include Brevicon, Modicon and Desogen and should be avoided by women prone to yeast infections.
Alternative birth control
If you cannot find a suitable pill or if you simply wish to explore other methods, particularly for long-term birth control, there are other options to consider. IUDs (intrauterine devices) are a form of long-term birth control which do not cause yeast infections since they don’t contain any estrogen.
The coil (non-hormonal IUD) is a copper-based IUD which is inserted into your uterus by stopping the egg and sperm surviving in the womb. It can last up to 10 years. Another option to consider is the hormonal IUD (Mirena) which uses only progestin. The Mirena lasts up to five years. Each of the IUDs work slightly differently and so it is important to first understand which would work best for you.
Preventing yeast infections
Yeast infections can be treated with over the counter medicine as well as using natural methods, but it is better to avoid getting them in the first place. This can be done by avoiding triggers and by being extra careful during times when you’re most prone to infection – such as during pregnancy, before a period and in times of stress.
You can lower your risk of infection by living a healthy lifestyle – this means eating a balanced diet, doing daily exercise and maintaining proper hygiene. Clean your lady area daily with warm water, and avoid scented hygiene products. Always avoid douching as this destroys your vagina’s healthy bacteria. It’s also important to wear breathable underwear.
Treating yeast infections
Read this too late? There are natural methods that work as well as over the counter treatment. But first of all, make sure you have correctly diagnosed yourself. If it’s not a yeast infection, it’s really no use to do treatment for yeast infections. Pick up a vaginal pH test from your pharmacy to determine whether you have a yeast infection or not. It’s really simple – if your pH is high then you probably have bacterial vaginosis, in which case your doctor can prescribe antibiotics. If the test comes back negative and you are not at risk for sexually transmitted disease (in this case, trichomoniasis), then it is safe to assume that you do indeed have a yeast infection. So, what are the remedies?
- Eating yoghurt containing active cultures. Or taking a probiotic supplement. This keeps the good bacteria at balance and helps keep your vaginal and digestive areas healthy.
- Coconut oil can soothe itchiness and prevent returning infections, though it probably isn’t enough to kill an existing infection. You can apply it straight to your vulva for relief.
- Boric acid capsules – you can purchase these in your local drug store. They are inserted into your vagina.
Which birth control method is right for you? There are many options out there to explore.