Many of you know the feeling. Itching. Burning. Really, really gross discharge.
You've got a yeast infection.
Yeast, or to be more science-y about it, Candida albicans, normally lives in small quantities in the vagina. However, sometimes you can get an overgrowth because of a variety of factors, leading to burning, itching, discharge and pain.
If it is the first time you've had these symptoms, it's best to have your symptoms checked out by a doctor. Since recurrent yeast infections can be a sign that something else is amiss, don't hesitate to find a health care practitioner and get things checked out. (Seriously. I had a friend go to the doctor with a yeast infection she couldn't kick - turns out she was pregnant. Hello.) If you have your period as well as a suspected yeast infection, use pads on the day of your doctor's appointment since tampons and cups can make it harder for your doc to assess your discharge.
They're annoying as all get out, but there are ways to discourage them from forming. Nix nylon undies - pick breathable cotton options. If you're dealing with discharge, choosing a washable cotton pantyliner with no plastic lining, like our Classic Pantyliner line, keeps things breathable and makes cleanup a snap.
We've published a roundup of natural remedies in the past, which you can check out here. Many people find that commercial suppositories and creams are very irritating to the vulva and vagina; if you experience painful side effects, see a doctor as soon as possible.
Having a yeast infection at the same time or shortly after your period can be a messy experience. A silicone menstrual cup should not harbour yeast, but DivaCup recommends waiting until your yeast infection clears up to use your cup. Boil your cup after your period. If you are taking the Monistat route, please know that the suppositories and creams in commercial preparations can weaken the silicone and compromise the integrity of your cup.
If you're using cloth pads and underwear, yeast should be successfully dispatched by regular washing and drying.If you're concerned, presoak the pads for ten minutes in two cups of water and two tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide (or six or seven drops of tea tree oil). Make sure that your products are thoroughly dried, and if it's a nice sunny day, spread them out in the sun to dry.
Yeast infections are unpleasant facts of life. Don't be ashamed, don't be afraid to ask questions of your healthcare providers, and remember that taking time to take care of yourself is one of the most empowering things you can do.