To help prevent yeast infections, cut back on sugar, which enables yeast to grow. Avoid concentrated sweets like soda, candy, syrup, and jam. Instead, try foods that are low in sugar but high in fiber and nutrients; eat complex carbs like whole grains, beans, and brown rice.
Also be sure to get lots of antioxidant-rich vegetables in your diet to help fight off yeast infections. Choose dark-green, orange, yellow, and red vegetables, which are high in the antioxidants you need to keep your immune system strong. During those times when you're prone to infection, limit your consumption of fruits to two servings a day so you can reduce your sugar intake.
--Christine Gerbstadt, M.D., R.D., spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association
If you're experiencing a bacterial infection that might require you to go on antibiotics, start taking probiotic supplements right away and continue them for about a week after you're done with your antibiotics. This helps re-colonize the vagina and the colon with good bacteria and stave off yeast infections. You also should avoid having sex, which changes the vaginal pH balance and can trigger an infection.
If you do end up with a yeast infection, use an over-the-counter antifungal vaginal application. You can also try an antifungal medication such as Diflucan, which is associated with a 3 to 5 percent chance of experiencing flulike symptoms. Avoid using perfumed soaps and tampons--they can aggravate the infection.
--Jill Maura Rabin, M.D., chief of the division of ambulatory care and head of urogynecology at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York
One of the most common reasons women get vaginal yeast infections is antibiotic use. Antibiotics kill off invading bacteria, but they also kill off the good bacteria that keep the vaginal pH in balance. When that balance gets thrown off, the yeast normally living in the vaginal canal in small amounts starts to reproduce and a yeast overgrowth results.
One treatment option is a preparation to kill off the yeast. Boric acid powder is one of the most effective remedies available; it's antiseptic and can be taken in capsule form or mixed with water to create a douche. The suppository product Yeast Arrest by Vitanica contains boric acid and calendula flowers, which help reduce inflammation. While using boric acid to kill yeast organisms, women should reintroduce good bacteria into their system with probiotics like acidophilus. These can be taken in capsule form or used as a douche.
--Jane Guiltinan, N.D., clinical professor, Bastyr University, and director of the Bastyr Center for Women's Wellness in Seattle