We had some really great replies to last week’s post about bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections. A few readers mentioned they’d had great results getting their personal flora and fauna in order by using probiotics or garlic, cutting out sugar and other non-medicinal methods. I’ve said it before, but want to be sure and mention it again: It’s normal to have yeast and bacteria in the vagina. Everybody does. It’s only when the balance of power shifts and there are too many bacteria or too much yeast that infection occurs. Most of the time, balanced levels of bacteria and yeast get along just fine with our vaginas and we all live together in peace.
The question is how do you keep it all in balance? The answer is, by keeping your body in the best shape possible so your immune system can do what it’s intended to do – keep the critters under control. Sometimes we need a prescription to eliminate infection. Most of the time, we just need to take care of our health so our health can take care of us.
I have a friend who has been a diabetic since she was 8-years-old. She’s a grown up woman now, but has always been prone to yeast infections. When she was pregnant, it got so out of control she could barely sit down. She used creams, suppositories and every prescription her doctor prescribed and while they tamed the itch temporarily, it always came back. When a nutritionist recommended she quit feeding the yeast so much sugar, my friend was shocked. As a diabetic, she’d always been super-careful about her diet. Well, there was the occasional Oreo and her pesky little French bread addiction, but other than that…she was a clean eater. When she seriously couldn’t take it any longer, she decided, “What the heck” and started an eating plan that was so pristine, so lacking in any simple carbohydrates whatsoever, she should have been nominated for sainthood. And what do you know? Not only did her yeast infection finally clear up, but her blood sugar got into the tightest control of her life. Did she miss her Oreos? Absolutely, but she didn’t miss the yeast one bit.
A doctor-buddy of mine was lactose intolerant for years. Any little speck of dairy that snuck into her diet could ruin her whole day with gas, cramps and queasiness. I’d been telling her forever that she should try probiotics. They worked for me and after a long spell with no cheese, half-and-half or ice cream; probiotics rebalanced the bacteria in my gut and allowed me to welcomed Brie back into my life. My friend was skeptical, as many doctors are, about alternative therapies, but when an opportunity to travel popped up and she was worried about picky eating abroad, she decided, “What the heck” and gave it a try. Guess what – she’s all into cheddar, gelato and cappuccinos now and not the least bit worried about getting gassy at work. Probiotics did the trick.
Personally, I swear by acupuncture, especially for allergies and insomnia (both of which I’m excellent at). I was entirely skeptical before my first visit, even after my acupuncturist explained how acupuncture works. I didn’t believe that tweaking my chi would cure my sniffles and sleeplessness. But antihistamines either made me sleepy or cranky and I needed a good night’s sleep desperately so I decided “What the heck.” I tell you what – one visit and I was a believer.
For those of you who need a more scientific point of view, a new study funded by the National Institutes of Health was published last week demonstrating that acupuncture totally works for pain relief for arthritis, migraines and other conditions. In fact, in some Eastern countries, acupuncture provides enough pain relief they use it for surgical anesthesia. It won’t be long before some new study proves it works for allergies and insomnia too.
Another friend just went to her 34-week prenatal check up and her midwife suspects her little one is breech. She gave her the “C-section talk,” and my friend is understandably freaked out. She wants to know if there’s anything she can do to make her baby flip? Oh you betcha. There are lots of natural techniques your doctor or midwife might not mention that are super effective for lots of women. I did an article about how to turn a breech baby in a recent issue of Fit Pregnancy magazine and since that was published, I’ve heard from readers that these techniques worked like a charm. Acupuncture, chiropractic and The Tilt are all considered safe for mom and baby alike. What the heck, my friend, why not give them a try?
Any article you read about health, medicine, wellness or sickness usually ends with these final words: Exercise, eat right, get plenty of sleep and reduce your stress. That’s after they’ve recommended this drug or that surgery. But what if you did all those things every day. What if you took excellent care of your health all the time, instead of just when your body’s out of whack? What are the chances you wouldn’t need this drug or that surgery? Pretty darn good and even if you still needed the occasional prescription, chances are also good your body would do a better job of healing if it was well-fed, nice and fit, rested and not vibrating with stress. What the heck. Give it a try. The natural approach might be just what the doctor ordered.
Jeanne Faulkner, R.N., lives in Portland, Ore., with her husband and five children. Got a question for Jeanne? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and it may be answered in a future blog post.
This Fit Pregnancy blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace medical advice from your physician. Before initiating any exercise program, diet or treatment provided by Fit Pregnancy, you should seek medical advice from your primary caregiver.