The telltale sign of a yeast infection is that drive-you-crazy, can’t-sleep kind of itch.
If you have mild vaginal irritation, burning or discharge, head to your doctor or gynecologist to get diagnosed in case it’s another kind of infection. But if you feel that intense itch or recognize the symptoms from a past yeast infection, you can go ahead and start treating it on your own.
Hit up the drugstore
Over-the-counter meds can be effective. I recommend a three-day treatment of clotrimazole (Canesten) to patients – miconazole (Monistat) can cause irritation for some women. Treatment works two ways: With a capsule inserted in the vagina and a cream applied to the skin for relief. Some women aren’t comfortable messing around down there, so they might prefer fluconazole (Diflucan), a one-time single-pill treatment.
Yeast thrives in a warm, moist environment, which makes the vagina a prime location for growth, but you can counter these conditions by wearing breathable cotton underwear. I recommend not wearing underwear to bed while you’re trying to kick an infection.
If you’re not showing any sign of improvement within a week, I’d question the diagnosis and test for other possible conditions.
However, it’s common for yeast infections to seem to get better for a few days and then recur – this just means that you didn’t quite get rid of the overgrowth, and some lingering yeast microbes started multiplying once the treatment was out of your system. If you get a yeast infection that recurs within a week or two, extend the treatment to a dose of Diflucan once a week for three or four weeks.
However, I recommend seeing your family physician if your symptoms aren’t resolved after one dose of Diflucan. If you notice that the yeast infection comes back monthly, your period might be to blame due to excess moisture. Birth control could also be a factor because yeast loves estrogen. If it’s bothersome, consider talking to your doctor about changing your birth control.
Yeast infections are common – just about every woman will get one in her lifetime – and, luckily, don’t pose any significant long-term risks. Some women may find that their bodies can clear mild yeast infections on their own, but don’t be afraid to look for relief if you’re uncomfortable.
Dr. Rupinder K. Toor Mangat is the medical director and founder of the Northeast Calgary Women’s Clinic.
What would a naturopath tell you? Find out in our article: What A Naturopath Would Tell You About Your Yeast Infection