Recurrent Yeast Infections
The 'medical' term is recurrent Vulvovaginal Candidiasis (VVC). It remains a challenge to manage in clinical practice. Recent evidence highlights why treating yeast infections is more complicated than once thought.
Vulvovaginal candidiasis is one of the most common infections of the lower female genital tract . It's name implies candida is the common contributing factor in this condition.
Uncomplicated yeast infections is certainly common and relatively ‘easier’ to treat. It affects about 75% of women at least once in their lifetimes . These cases are often treated successfully and without long-lasting issues.
Complicated yeast infections describes the cases of recurrent and/or chronic yeast infections. If a woman has 4-5 outbreaks within a 12-month period, its considered recurrent or chronic.
Conventional Treatments Don’t Always Work
For many women, the conventional anti-fungal medications work effectively. These include the azoles and flucytosine .
The problem is when less common types of candida infect (where some of these meds don’t work well). Usually, the specific yeast that infects is Candida albicans. Now we’re learning non-albicans species are commonly responsible for these types of infections. Candida glabrata is known to be the causative agent in about 33% of recurrent yeast infections.
There is also more and more anti-fungal resistant strains of these infectious agents . Other anti-fungal medications need to be considered.
What is Boric Acid
Boric acid is also called boracic acid or orthoboric acid. It is an inorganic acid, available as a white, odorless powder.
It was first used as a topical antiseptic in 1872, and has been used for very long with great effects on a wide range of infections.
For vulvovaginal conditions, we use boric acid as a suppository, and, to date there are no commercial products available. These types of formulas need to be compounded by your naturopath and a compounding pharmacist.
How Boric Acid Works
Boric acid has shown to be effective against bacterial and fungal infections (including yeasts infections). The precise mechanism of action is unclear, but it’s proposed one way it works is acidification of the vaginal pH. Many people are working to alkalize their bodies, but little do they know certain areas of the body thrive in acidic environments, including the vaginal canal.
Boric acid is especially good in recurrent infections since in those cases, traditional treatments are often targeting candida-based species where as non-candida species of yeast could exist. Furthermore, there are more and more anti-biotic resistant bugs out there.
Boric Acid Helps in Many Ways
As mentioned above, Boric acid can stop pathogenic growth in many ways, including:
- Candida albicans
- Non-candida albicans species, such as those mentioned above
We usually reserve it’s use for complicated cases though.
Use Short Term, Not Long Term
Short term use is well tolerated. The most common adverse effects are local burning, watery discharge and redness, it is acidic in natural after all. Don’t use it long term, as gastrointestinal disturbances, anemia, weakness, confusion, alopecia, anorexia, menstrual disorders, seizures and dermatitis might be symptoms (due to its boron content). Once again, short term use is safe and well tolerated!
For most women dealing with vulvovaginal candidiasis, treatment wit the conventional meds is adequate. However, when a person has recurrent yeast infections, we need to think outside the box.
Consider the idea that non-traditional pathogens are involved, and, or medication resistance. This is where Boric acid may be useful. Discuss this with your naturopath and determine if this is safe and indicated for you.