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Understanding Vaginal Yeast Infections -- Diagnosis & Treatment

How Is a Vaginal Yeast Infection Diagnosed?

Your doctor may diagnose a vaginal yeast infection based on your description of symptoms and possibly a vaginal exam. During the exam, your doctor may take a vaginal wet smear to look for the yeast under a microscope. 

How Are Vaginal Yeast Infections Treated?

If you have had a vaginal yeast infection previously and you're confident that's what you have, you may choose to treat it with an over-the-counter cream or suppository (a medication that dissolves in the vagina). These treatments may cause burning or irritation.

If over-the-counter medications don't help, your doctor may prescribe a cream with terconazole (Terazol) or a single dose of an antifungal pill containing fluconazole (Diflucan). Some women may get an upset stomach with fluconazole.  Most women prefer treating a vaginal yeast infection with a fluconazole pill due to the convenience.  Some yeast infections are resistant to the more common medications and may require different medications or longer treatment.

Due to the potential for complications, certain women who think they have a vaginal yeast infection should see their doctor and not try to treat it themselves. These women may need longer treatment. They include:

  • Women with diabetes
  • Pregnant women
  • Women with weakened immune systems
  • Women with frequent vaginal yeast infections (four or more a year)

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Trina Pagano, MD on April 10, 2014

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