Medications cure 80 to 90 percent of vaginal yeast infections within two weeks or less, often within a few days with less severe infections. A small percentage of women less than 5 percent experience recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis RVVC , defined as four or more yeast infections per year.
Treatment involves a longer course of treatment—between 7 and 14 days of a topical cream or suppository or oral fluconazole followed by a second and third dose three and six days later.
Your health care professional may also recommend a preventative treatment after the infection has resolved. This treatment may involve a mg dose of fluconazole or mg of topical clotrimazole once a week. Prevention Among the strategies that may prevent vaginal yeast infections are: Keep the external genital area clean and dry. Avoid irritating soaps including bubble bath and vaginal sprays. Avoid scented soaps, powders or toilet tissue.
Avoid daily use of panty liners, which can trap moisture and prevent good airflow. Change tampons and sanitary napkins frequently. Wear loose cotton underwear that doesn't trap moisture. After swimming, change immediately into dry clothing instead of staying in your wet bathing suit. If you have diabetes, try to maintain stable blood sugar levels.
Take antibiotics only when prescribed by your health care professional and never for longer than directed. In addition to destroying bacteria that cause illness, antibiotics kill off the "good" bacteria that keep the yeast in the vagina at a normal level.
If you tend to get yeast infections whenever you take an antibiotic, ask your doctor to prescribe a vaginal antifungal agent at the same time. Wipe from the front to the rear away from the vagina after a bowel movement or urination. Douching with vinegar or other chemicals increases the rate of vaginal yeast infections because it alters the vaginal bacterial balance. Facts to Know Seventy-five percent of women are likely to have at least one yeast infection during their lifetime; nearly half have two or more.
Vaginal yeast infections are the second most common cause of abnormal vaginal discharge in the United States the first is bacterial vaginosis. Yeast infections are quite common during pregnancy. It seems that the higher levels of estrogen in pregnancy cause the vagina to produce more glycogen sugar , which feeds the yeast. Yeast infections are also more common in women with diabetes.
A small percentage of women less than 5 percent develop recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis RVVC , defined as four or more symptomatic vaginal yeast infections in a month period.
Most women with RVVC have no underlying medical illness that would predispose them to recurrent candida infections. A woman's vagina normally produces a discharge described as clear or slightly cloudy, non-irritating and odor-free or having only a mild scent.
During the normal menstrual cycle, the amount and consistency of discharge may vary. Douching disrupts the balance of normal bacteria in the vagina and can cause more frequent vaginal infections.
Vaginal yeast infections can clear up without treatment. However, if you don't treat a yeast infection, there is a very small chance you may develop a serious infection.
If you have a yeast infection, treatment of sexual partners is usually not generally recommended, since it's not clear if vaginal yeast infections are transmitted sexually. Medications cure 80 percent to 90 percent of vaginal yeast infections within two weeks or less, often within a few days. Take antibiotics only when prescribed by your health care professional and never take them for more or less time than directed. In addition to destroying bacteria that cause illness, antibiotics kill off the "good" bacteria that normally live in the vagina.
Stopping treatment early, even when symptoms have improved, can cause infections to return and make them resistant to the medication. Questions to Ask Review the following Questions to Ask about yeast infections so you're prepared to discuss this important health issue with your health care professional. Is there a difference between the various over-the-counter treatments for yeast infections? Which one would you recommend?
Am I a candidate for the one-dose, oral prescription medication fluconazole Diflucan? Be sure to tell your health care professional if you may be pregnant, are nursing, have any health problems or are taking any other medications. Are the drugs used for treating yeast infections safe for pregnant women?
Are the drugs used for treating yeast infections safe for nursing women? Does my male partner need to be treated? What if I have a female partner? Are different vaginal infections treated differently?
How do I identify a yeast infection in the future? Do I need to refrain from sexual contact while I am being treated? How much douching is excessive? How do I avoid yeast infections in the future? Should I go ahead and try one of the over-the-counter preparations to see if my symptoms go away? If you've had a yeast infection before and now have the same symptoms—vaginal discharge that has a yeast-like smell,with burning, itching and discomfort—self-treatment with an over-the-counter antifungal treatment is generally acceptable.
However, many vaginal infections, including some that can cause serious reproductive health conditions, such as premature birth or increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases, have similar symptoms. If you're not sure, have never had a yeast infection before, are pregnant or have a health condition, consult a health care professional for an evaluation of your symptoms before treating yourself with OTC medications.
I'm on the third day of a seven-day treatment and my symptoms are all gone. Can I stop using the medication? No, you need to use all of the medication as directed. Your symptoms can disappear before your infection is completely treated.
If you stop using the medication now, the yeast infection could recur. I have vaginal itching and a discharge with a fishy odor. Is this a yeast infection?
No, a discharge with a fishy odor is not a symptom of a yeast infection. It's a symptom of bacterial vaginosis BV , another common, but more serious, vaginal infection. BV requires a different treatment than that used for yeast infections. Contact a health care professional for additional guidance. What is the risk of self-treating yeast infection for women who are pregnant or nursing or those who have diabetes or HIV? First, women who are pregnant or have diabetes or HIV have a higher risk of developing a yeast infection.
Second, and most important, these woman, as well as nursing mothers, should always see their health care professional if they suspect a yeast infection rather than self-treat because yeast medications may interfere with medications needed for their other health problems HIV, diabetes or pose risks for the baby.
If I'm pregnant, can a yeast infection hurt my developing baby? No, but you do need to see your health care professional for treatment. Also, some treatments currently on the market, such as fluconazole Diflucan , are not recommended during pregnancy. Be sure your health care professional and pharmacist are both aware that you are or may be pregnant. I keep getting recurrent yeast infections. Should my sexual partner be treated? It's not clear whether vaginal yeast infections can be transferred during sexual intercourse.
In rare cases, treatment of partners of women with recurrent yeast infection is recommended. Additionally, recurrent yeast infections may be representative of a different problem. Thus, it is important to see your health care provider for an evaluation.
I thought douching helped keep a woman clean. What is the risk in douching? The healthy vaginal ecosystem requires just the right balance of bacteria flora. The vaginal mucosa, which protects against pathogens, is made up predominantly of healthy bacteria called lactobacillus. These bacteria make hydrogen peroxide, which keeps unhealthy bacteria from getting out of hand. This, in turn, keeps the amount of yeast at a normal level. Too much douching can disrupt the bacterial balance and lead to infection.
My health care professional has prescribed antibiotics to treat an unrelated illness. What precautions should I take to avoid getting a yeast infection? Wear loose clothing and loose cotton underwear. Keep yourself clean and dry. Avoid scented or irritating soaps, powders, and toilet tissue. Use a preventive dose of yeast medication.
Lifestyle Tips Think twice before taking antibiotics If you need to take antibiotics, you may wind up with a yeast infection. The use of antibiotics will frequently tip the balance among the normal microorganisms of the vagina, allowing harmful bacteria to dominate vaginal flora. Antibiotics suppress the growth of protective vaginal bacteria, which normally have an antifungal effect.
Before rushing to the drugstore for an over-the-counter treatment, it's wise to consult your health care professional. Many self-diagnosed yeast infections turn out to be other vaginal problems. Keep your vagina clean, dry and clear of deodorants and soaps Here are some simple steps you can take that may help you avoid yeast infections: Don't douche or use feminine hygiene sprays, bubble bath or sanitary pads or tampons that contain deodorant. These items seem to affect the balance of acidity of the vagina, which can lead to an infection.