I see many women who are troubled with vaginal problems. They include discomfort, discharge and odor. Women often find it difficult to prevent these problems and they also tend to recur after conventional treatments, which consist of antibiotics, steroid and antifungal creams. In this article I will share some natural therapies that really work and do not have side effects.
It is normal to have some discharge of mucus from the vagina in premenopausal women as the hormonal changes during the monthly menstrual cycle promote mucus formation. Mucus in the middle of your cycle is usually a good indicator that you have ovulated. If the discharge has an offensive odor this is caused by the mucus becoming contaminated by mixed bacteria. The source of these bacteria is from the bowel.
Vaginal acid base balance
The acidity of the vaginal mucus membranes and vaginal secretions is important for vaginal health. A healthy vagina is acidic. An unhealthy vagina is alkaline. The healthy vagina is acidic because the lactobacilli living in the vagina make lactic acid.
Acidity is measured as “the pH level” and there are paper strips which measure the pH level that are sold in drug stores. The pH reading on the paper strip should be 3.5 to 4.5 after one minute.
How does your doctor do the vaginal pH test?
The strip of paper is placed against the lower wall of your vagina. Fluid is not tested from the cervix or from the speculum, as the reading will not be accurate.
If the vaginal pH is acidic (normal) this indicates the following –
- Friendly lactobacilli bacteria are growing and populating the vagina thus keeping away the bad smelly bugs such as trichomonas, E. coli or streptococci. However, yeast such as Candida can grow in an acidic vagina. Yeast overgrowth is most common in women who have recently taken antibiotics, those who eat a lot of sugar or refined carbohydrate, and women with a weakened immune system.
- Adequate levels of estrogen are being produced in the body
If the vaginal pH is alkaline (too high) = above 4.6 this is not optimal and may indicate –
- Low levels of estrogen
- Bacterial or trichomonal infection in the vagina
- Chronic inflammation in the vagina, which is often also present in the vulva
A very useful and harmless treatment is to douche the vagina with a weak solution of tea tree oil. This will flush out the excess mucus within the vagina in which the bacteria and Candida live. Tea tree oil is effective against bacteria and Candida and other yeasts and will prevent them from growing and thus causing an odor.
Another useful technique is to insert a tablespoon of plain unflavored yogurt into the vagina every day as this will populate the vagina with friendly bacteria which will compete with the unfriendly bacteria. Yogurt keeps the vagina more acidic which reduces infections.
Strengthen your immune system
A strong and healthy immune system will regulate bacteria and yeast in the vagina, helping to prevent overgrowth of harmful bugs. Take a selenium supplement in a dose of 200mcg daily, such as Selenomune capsules. Selenium exerts many benefits to your immune system and is essential to overcome recurrent viral infections such as genital herpes and the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Selenium is also anti-inflammatory and thus reduces inflammatory conditions of the vulva such as dermatitis and Lichen Sclerosis. Selenium has proven cancer preventative properties so you don’t want to be low in this mineral.
Boost your intake of omega 3 fatty acids by taking fish oil and by consuming walnuts, chia seeds, pecans, hemp seeds and flaxseeds on a regular basis. Purchase some whole flaxseeds and grind them into a powder using a coffee grinder or food processor. You may store the flaxseed powder in the freezer or grind it fresh daily and I recommend you consume 1 to 2 tablespoons daily. This is a great way to keep your bowels regular, and the lignan phyto-estrogens reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Hemp seeds and avocado also provide wonderfully healthy essential fats for your skin and mucus membranes (as found in your vagina and vulva). Essential fatty acids will overcome many painful and/or irritating disorders of the vulva such as dermatitis, eczema and Lichen Sclerosis. They will also reduce dryness of the vulva and vagina and reduce your susceptibility to genital infections.
Increase the quantity of healthy bacteria in your intestines and vagina by taking a good quality probiotic supplement containing healthy bacteria, such as Floratone. This will improve the health of your intestines and vagina. These strategies are essential if you have bacterial vaginosis or candida. There is also a good amount of research to show that bacterial vaginosis is much more common in women who are low in vitamin D. This is not surprising since vitamin D helps to strengthen the immune system and reduces the risk of infections.
Ensure that you are not deficient in iodine. Iodine acts as a natural antibiotic; if you are low in iodine your immune system will be weakened and you will be more prone to vaginal and skin infections. Check your iodine levels with a urine test and if your result shows a deficiency, take an iodine supplement, such as Thyroid Health Capsules. Each capsule contains selenium, iodine, vitamin D and zinc.
Avoid consuming excess sugar, as sugar feeds infections and promotes inflammation. This all adds up to more Candida and more unhealthy vaginal bacteria. Many women find that by avoiding refined sugars they are able to control unpleasant vaginal odor.
Increase the amount of raw fruits and vegetables in your diet and aim for at least 30% of your diet to consist of raw foods. Good choices of raw foods include fruit, vegetable salads, raw nuts and seeds and sprouted legumes and seeds. Raw juicing can also help a lot to reduce inflammation and increase immune and gut health. A juice machine is a worthwhile investment! Good things to juice are citrus, cabbage, kale, beet, carrot, apple, ginger, celery and fresh green herbs such as mint, parsley and cilantro. If you are super busy you can make a week’s supply of juice and freeze it in glass jars. If you freeze it immediately after making it, the healing properties will be retained. You will find benefit from drinking 7 to 8 ounces (200 to 300mls) of juice daily. I like to drink my juice whist it is defrosting and it gives the experience of having a “slushy” but this time it’s a healthy one!
Use natural antibiotics. If you suffer with recurrent infections you may become a victim of the overuse and dependence on antibiotic drugs. These drugs will destroy the good bacteria in your gut and vagina and eventually lead to more infections. Natural antibiotics such as vitamin C, garlic, onions and radishes of all varieties and thyme.
Colloidal silver can help to fight bacterial infections and some women get good results by taking a course of this every 6 months; the dose is generally one teaspoon daily in water or juice. One tablespoon of colloidal silver can be added to your tea tree vaginal douche gel solution and helps to overcome bacterial and yeast infections of the vagina. By consuming small amounts of natural antibiotics on a regular basis your immune system will improve in leaps and bounds!
Interestingly by improving your gut health you can improve your vaginal health. Vaginal odor is most often caused by unfriendly bacteria such as streptococci or E. coli or the micro-organism called trichomonas. These grow in the vagina and these can originate on the skin around the anus and from the bowel. This condition is called Bacterial Vaginosis (BV).
Infection with the yeast organism called Candida does not usually produce an odour but often causes an excess vaginal discharge that is thick and white and may cause itchiness and redness around the vulva. All these infections can be controlled by improving your immune system and your diet. Try to eat more raw vegetable salads and avoid all sugar. Sugar feeds bacterial and yeast infections and you should eliminate processed foods as well as foods high in sugar. Avoid antibiotic drugs and antibiotic creams if you can, as these will only produce a temporary fix and lead to an overgrowth of Candida. Many doctors prescribe strong antibiotic creams or strong antifungal drugs which I am not in favour of, as they can be toxic to the liver especially if used repetitively.
One harmless and often effective treatment for Candida is the use of vaginal pessaries containing boric acid in a dose of 600mg per pessary; this is used for 14 days.
To discover more on how to have a healthy vagina and vulva and also on how to improve your sex drive (libido), see my book “Increase Your Sex Drive Naturally”.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.