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Vaginal Yeast Infections - Treatment Overview

You have a number of treatment options for a vaginal yeast infection, including nonprescription vaginal medicine, prescription oral or vaginal medicine, or nonprescription vaginal boric acid capsules.

Only use nonprescription vaginal yeast infection treatment without a doctor's diagnosis and advice if you:

  • Are not pregnant.
  • Are sure your symptoms are caused by a vaginal yeast infection. If you have never been diagnosed with a vaginal yeast infection, see your doctor.
  • Have not been exposed to a sexually transmitted infection (STI), which would require a medical exam.
  • Are not having multiple, recurrent infections.

The risk of self-treatment is that your symptoms may be caused by another vaginal infection, such as a sexually transmitted infection (STI), that requires different treatment. If you may have been exposed to an STI, it is best to discuss your symptoms with your doctor before using a nonprescription medicine. Your doctor may recommend testing for STI if you have risk factors for these infections.

Vaginal Yeast Infection: Should I Treat It Myself?

Yeast infection during pregnancy

Vaginal yeast infections are common during pregnancy, likely caused by elevated estrogen levels. If you are pregnant, don't assume you have a yeast infection until it is diagnosed, and don't use nonprescription medicines without discussing your symptoms with your doctor.

Vaginal medicine is often used to treat a vaginal yeast infection during pregnancy.

Recurrent yeast infection

For a vaginal yeast infection that recurs within 2 months of treatment, or four times in 1 year (recurrent vaginal yeast infection), see your doctor. Further testing or a different treatment may be needed. If you have been using a nonprescription medicine for your vaginal symptoms, be sure to tell your doctor. This information could affect what treatment is recommended.

Recurrent vaginal yeast infection can be treated with prescription oral medicine, nonprescription vaginal medicine, or vaginal boric acid capsules, followed by less frequent suppressive or maintenance therapy over 6 months to 1 year to prevent reinfection.1

A vaginal yeast infection is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI). After having unprotected sex with a partner who has a yeast infection, you may have more than the normal amount of yeast in your vagina. But if after having sex you develop a yeast infection that causes symptoms, it is most likely because other factors are also involved.

What to think about

It is important to complete the entire recommended treatment to cure a yeast infection.

Vaginal infections caused by types of yeast other than Candida albicans may be more difficult to cure with standard antifungal medicine. For treatment-resistant infections, a culture of vaginal discharge is done to identify the type of yeast causing the infection.

Boric acid is usually effective for treating Candida albicans (C. albicans) infection, and non–C. albicans yeast infections that don't respond to antifungal medicine.1

1

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 05, 2012
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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