What’s The Deal With Yeast Infections?

By Mia Abrahams

(And, yes, I am saying that in a Jerry Seinfeld voice)

Chances are if you’re reading this, you’ve had a yeast infection (the CDC says nearly 75% of women have had at least one). They are about as much of a guarantee in the life of a (sexually active) person as a 2am “U up lol” text or an (insert relatable relationship joke here—idk, y’all, I’m single). If you have yet to experience the joy of a yeast infection, then at least you should know what to look out for, and how to solve it quick!

First thing’s first. A yeast infection is also known as a “candida overgrowth” (aka “thrush”—isn’t the English language a joy? 100% bet you a dude coined these terms).

Candida is a type of yeast that normally hangs out in your body in small amounts. If it gets a little out of control---like if the acidity of your vagina changes or your hormones are thrown out of whack—an imbalance can occur and, voila, yeast infection. BTW, candida isn’t normally transmitted through sex, but it can be, so if the person you’re having sex w/ has symptoms, get those treated before you do it!

So how will you know you’ve got a yeast infection? Well, symptoms range from subtle to OMGGGGG. But, basically, some tell-tale signs are vaginal itching or burning, swelling or redness, a white/grey discharge (sometimes thick and can look like cottage cheese [and sorry if you ever wanted to eat cottage cheese again]), a burning sensation when you pee, and pain during sex. Oh, and it may smell weird. Note: These symptoms can also be signs of an STD (don’t panic) or UTI, so if you’re having/had sex with someone new, go see your gyno and get your V checked out.

Luckily, your garden variety yeast infection is usually easy to treat. There are a bunch of different medications you can get over the counter, from a pill to a course of suppositories to creams that will help you manage your symptoms. These are pretty effective (they work about 80 - 90% of the time) but might not be effective if you have recurring infections.

If you’re being plagued by chronic yeast infections, or the over-the-counter treatments aren’t working, you should—*I sound like a broken record*—go see your doctor. There could be something else going on: side effects of a new birth control pill, a reaction to antibiotics, immune deficiency, or an STD.

Vaginas are strong/powerful/celebrated but also, like, delicate snowflakes that can get moody af. Have you had sex recently after taking some time off? Have you been on antibiotics? Do you take birth control? Are you run down or tired? On your period? Using tampons? Eating too much sugar? Being a human person in the world? Your V might be feeling a little unbalanced. (I told you -- sensitive!)

Us too Emma, us too.

Vaginas are self-cleaning (so defs stay away from scented deodorant or soap up in there), and part of how they do that is by maintaining a delicate balance of bacterias that keep you at an optimum pH level (level of acidity, remember chemistry?). A healthy vaginal pH is somewhere between 3.5 - 4.5. As we’ve said, anything that throws off this balance can cause discomfort.

So, how do we walk along the tightrope that is our vaginal health without falling off?

Well, we can start with the food we eat. Keeping your diet low in sugar and gluten-heavy foods like grains can help (there’s even a whole diet dedicated to it! But, pls note, there hasn’t been conclusive scientific research in this area). You’ve probably heard of the old yogurt up the vag trick to take care of yeast infections (bc yogurt contains lactobcillus, a good infection fightin’ bacteria), but if a Chobani tampon isn’t your thing, just having regular unsweetened yogurt for breakfast can do the trick.

Probiotics have the same yeast infection-battling properties as yogurt, just in pill form, and they’re easy to incorporate into your morning vitamin routine. Probiotics can also help keep your gut in check (espesh when your stomach is feeling weird on your period).

Another easy tactic, cotton underwear! Keep your downstairs dry and free from moisture (which is why our THINX underwear have a cotton lining & moisture-wicking tech!) because candida lurrrrves humid environments (hello, summer, my old friend).

There are also a bunch of home remedies that many people swear by, like garlic, coconut oil, and apple cider vinegar — scientific studies on these are a little spotty (as in, there are some, but not heaps) but I’d love to know if you’ve tried any that work. Are there any other home remedies you swear by? Let me know in the comments.