If you visit your GP with the symptoms of thrush they are likely to prescribe oral thrush remedies, including antifungal medication or pessaries - a special pill that you insert into your vagina. However, lots of women want to choose natural solutions to treat the Candida fungi that cause thrush, by rebalancing the natural yeast in the vagina and not resorting to drugs.
We've gathered a selection of natural and herbal relief for thrush, including yogurt, tea tree essential oil, underwear, and even addressing your diet.
What are the causes of thrush?The Candida fungus that causes thrush is present in most women's vaginas but can live there without causing problems for many years. However, up to 50% of females will go on to develop thrush during their life time. The Candida can flare up and become a yeast infection for many reasons.
What causes thrush can vary from person to person, and sometimes even if you follow all the 'rules' to avoid getting thrush, you can still be unlucky. You are more likely to get thrush if;
What are the symptoms of thrush?These are the most common symptoms of thrush in adult women (the symptoms for thrush are similar for males including itching around the genitals and trouble passing urine). It's worth noting that individually these symptoms may not be a sign that anything is wrong, and you should just compare them to what you know to be normal for your body and vagina. They are;
Natural remedies to treat thrush
It's not just an old wives' tale, natural yogurt really is a great natural remedy for thrush as the natural bacteria in the yogurt do the same job as the naturally occurring ones in your vagina.
You can put a spoonful of live yogurt, which can be purchased in all supermarkets, on to the labia or where they appear irritated by the infection. Some women recommend soaking a tampon in live yoghurt and leave it in over night and others prefer freezing yoghurt in a lollipop maker and then insert this - especially as the cold will help to soothe any itching.
Although there isn't lots of scientific evidence to support the use of probiotics in curing thrush, many women in clinical trials have said they find them useful.
A garlic clove is another natural remedy for thrush that seems like the stuff of myth rather than science, but time and time again women rely on a clove of garlic to relieve them from the itchiness of thrush.
Garlic works because it kills yeast (all bakers know never to put garlic in a rising loaf of bread) and it performs the same function for those suffering with yeast infections.
For the best results we recommend putting a single clove (peeled) into your vagina overnight and removing in the morning. Usually one night is enough to kill the infection. Be warned, you might be able to taste the garlic in your mouth while it is inside you.
Tea Tree Essential Oil
Tea Tree Essential Oil might seem like a strange recommendation for treating thrush seeing as often perfumed oils and lotions are what cause thrush in the first place. But tea tree oil is a naturally occurring product unlike many shower gels and soaps that are not PH balanced.
We recommend adding a couple of drops to a hot bath (without bubbles in case the bubble bath products are making the problem worse) and enjoy the heat of the water as a short-term relief while the essential oils help with the thrush infection.
Reducing sugar in your diet
Scientific studies have shown there is a well established link between the presence of Candida in your vagina and sugar cravings. In fact eating sugar encourages the growth of yeast and thus yeast infections if you're having too much of the sweet stuff.
If you do suffer with the reoccurring problem of thrush perhaps it is time to take a look at your dietary choices and longer-term strategy for dealing with the problem because there is a high chance that too much sugar is causing your thrush to get out of control. This is also the reason that diabetics are more prone to suffering with yeast infections.
Instead you should try a low-sugar diet and replace high sugar snacks with healthier alternatives - even consider changing your fruit choices for those with less naturally occurring sugar content.
Use a mild, non-perfumed soap
Using irritating soaps, that are not PH balanced or contain strong perfumes and scents, may actually be the reason behind your thrush flare up. Many women who suffer from yeast infections know what to look out for when they are buying their toiletries, but sometimes they can catch you by surprise with bad or unclear labels.
If you suspect this might be the case then go back to more naturally-derived products or those made from natural elements. Of course never use soaps inside your vagina, only on the outside, and make sure all the product is properly rinsed away afterwards.
Wear silk knickers
Silk knickers don't just feel (and look!) good but it turns out they could also help relieve the symptoms of thrush. A study conducted by the University of Bologna concluded that silk underwear dramatically reduced the itchiness and redness of thrush sufferers.
If that isn't a good reason to treat yourself to some new lingerie then we don't know what is?!