Since this is National Women’s Health Week, I tried to think of common ailments that I see women for more than men. Things that would be frequent problems in a disaster.
The first ailment that came to mind was yeast infections. (It’s estimated that up to ninety percent of women will have one at some time.) But, men, this affects you too. Much more than may you think. Fortunately, for yeast infections, there are plenty of home remedies.
Everyone has yeast on and in their bodies. It loves moisture, so it grows best in our mouths and intestines, in sweaty skin folds, in the vagina, and—men, listen up—under the foreskin.
When yeast overgrows, it can cause extreme itching. Factors in addition to moisture that lead to overgrowth are:
- Antibiotics. They don’t just kill the bad bacteria, they kill off the good also. This gives yeast free range to grow without competition.
- A compromised immune system, such as from HIV/AIDS, chemotherapy, stress, or diabetes. You’re not going to get the yeast under control if your sugar isn’t.
Myth 2: If there’s vaginal itching, it’s a yeast infection.
Many of you women have had yeast infections before. You take an antibiotic and, even if you gobble down cartons of yogurt, you know the itching’s coming. You take one of the over-the-counter suppositories and it’s gone.
The women I see in the office have tried this too. It didn’t work. Sometimes, that’s because they have a persistent yeast infection. But often it’s something else.
You must remember that other things can cause itching. Trichomoniasis is a biggie. This is a very common sexually transmitted parasitic infection that can stay unnoticed for years and then show up as extreme itching and a bad-smelling discharge. Only antibiotics (metronidazole) will clear this up.
Signs of a Yeast Infection
Yeast infections cause a cottage-cheese looking discharge with a minimal smell. The vaginal area is usually raw and red. Infected, uncircumcised men can have this same discharge under the foreskin, or the foreskin can just be red, raw, and swollen. Circumcised men have redness and itching around the urethral opening (where the pee comes out).
5 Yeast Infection Home Remedies
So, you’ve been to the doctor, and now you’ve just got to go to the store and get your medicine, right?
But what if you’re in the middle of a disaster? You’ve been wet or sweaty all day, unable to change clothes, stressed to the hilt, so you’re at increased risk, and you start feeling that itch. You can’t possibly get to a doctor, or even a store.
Fortunately, there are boatloads of yeast infection home remedies. Here are just a few. Men, just coat them externally.
- Yogurt. A tablespoon of plain yogurt in the vagina or on the penis will do. Leave on or in for a few hours. Do this daily until the symptoms are gone. Warning: It’s messy!
- Boric-acid vaginal capsules. If you have some boric-acid powder and some 00 size gelatin capsules, open up the capsule, and fill both sides about half full with the powder. Close the capsule, and insert vaginally. Do this daily for two weeks. Many doctors recommend this for infections that don’t respond well to the usual medications. Warning: never take orally, and don’t use or if you might be pregnant. Don’t put on open sores or wounds. Added benefit: Boric acid is good for killing roaches, too. ☺
- Gentian violet. You’d have to keep some on hand. You can get it at your local pharmacy. Soak a long, large cotton swab with gentian violet, insert, and coat the vaginal walls. Do this daily until the symptoms are gone. Doctors used to use this before the current medications were available. Warning: Messy. Will discolor clothing.
- Tea tree oil douche. Mix a tablespoon of tea tree oil in a cup of warm water. Douche once or twice a day until the symptoms are gone. Warning: Can cause irritation. Stop if it does.
- Garlic. And then there’s our old friend garlic. Peel a clove, cut some shallow slits into it, sew a string into it, and shove it in if you dare. It’s supposed to work, but it can also cause quite a bit of burning. Since you’re already dealing with a sensitive place, I’d probably eat one a day instead.
Eating yogurt or your favorite probiotic may help also. Avoid sugar and alcohol, and get that diabetes under control. No sex. It irritates the area and will flair up the infection.
Myth 3: Since a yeast infection isn’t an STD, your partner won’t get it.
Although a yeast infection is not an STD, you can pass it back and forth with your sexual partner in about twenty percent of cases. So it’s best to treat both of you, especially if it comes back after initial treatment.
How to Prevent Yeast Infections
- Wear loose-fitting clothes and cotton undies.
- Keep dry down there.
- Don’t douche unless it’s for treatment. Douching disrupts the normal bacteria.
- Avoid sugar and alcohol.
Please share your experiences in the comments.