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Women's Health

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Vaginal Yeast Infections - Medications

Antifungal medicines are the standard treatment for a vaginal yeast infection. You can insert a cream or suppository antifungal cream into your vagina or take a pill by mouth. Vaginal boric acid capsules are sometimes used.

Antifungal medicines that you take as a pill by mouth affect the entire body (so it can also treat any yeast infection elsewhere in the body). Vaginal medicine only affects the area in which it is applied.

If you are thinking about using nonprescription treatment, see:

Vaginal Yeast Infection: Should I Treat It Myself?

Medicine choices

  • Vaginal antifungal medicines are available in 1-day, 3-day, and longer courses, depending on the strength of the medicine.
  • Oral antifungal medicines are easy to use.
  • Vaginal boric acid capsules are available over-the-counter. But they are not safe to use if you are pregnant.

What to think about

Antifungal creams and suppositories that you put into your vagina have fewer side effects than antifungal pills you take by mouth. This is because vaginal medicine isn't absorbed into your body and only affects the genital area. Antifungal pills that are taken by mouth affect your entire body. Side effects from these pills are rare with one treatment dose. Side effects can include nausea, headaches, and belly pain. But taking a pill is convenient and is not messy. Medicine put into the vagina can be uncomfortable. And it may seem like more of a hassle than taking a pill.

The oil in antifungal creams or suppositories can weaken latex. This means condoms and diaphragms may break, and you may not be protected from STI or pregnancy.

If you are taking the anticoagulant medicine warfarin and you use a nonprescription vaginal yeast-fighting medicine, you may have increased bruising and abnormal bleeding. Talk with your doctor before using an antifungal medicine along with warfarin.

You are more likely to use a treatment correctly and complete the treatment if you get to choose the type you prefer. Talk with your doctor about the advantages and disadvantages of vaginal and oral medicines, including:

  • How a medicine can be administered. Most of the vaginal treatments are available as creams, vaginal tablets, or suppositories.
  • Whether oral or vaginal medicine is recommended. You may prefer to take pills rather than use medicine that is inserted into the vagina. Or the type of yeast infection you have may respond better to one method than to the other.
  • Whether you should avoid sexual intercourse if you are using vaginal medicine. Some doctors advise that women avoid sex during treatment.
  • Whether treatment should be continued during your menstrual period. Tampons can absorb medicine, so use pads if you are being treated with vaginal medicines during your period.

Check with your doctor or pharmacist to see whether you can get a generic form of a prescription medicine. Many generic medicines are now available to treat vaginal yeast infections. They are often less expensive than brand-name medicines.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 17, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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