Yeast infections are the most common type of vaginal infections. Other names for this are monilia, candidiasis or fungus infection. Vaginal yeast infections result from the overgrowth of Candida albicans, which is normally present in harmless amounts in the vagina, the digestive tract and the mouth. Some women rarely have a yeast infection; others have them regularly.

Treatment for vaginal yeast infections consists mostly of vaginal creams or suppositories that get rid of the Candida overgrowth. These can be over-the-counter ones (e.g., Monistat and Gyne-Lotrimin) or ones prescribed by your doctor (e.g., Terazol and Vagistat). Other treatments include gentian violet (a purple solution applied to the vaginal area) and oral medicines (e.g., Diflucan, Sporanox, Nystatin and Nizoral). Oral medicines are used for chronic yeast infections.

Ask Yourself: Yes No
Do you have any other symptoms such as vaginal swelling and/or unusual bleeding? Does the discharge have a foul-smelling odor? See doctor Go to next question
Do symptoms of vaginal yeast infection worsen or continue one week or longer despite Self-Care Procedures, or do they come back within two months after treatment? See doctor Provide self-care (see below)

Self-Care Procedures:

To get rid of a yeast infection, try the following:

  • Use an over-the-counter vaginal medication cream or suppositories (e.g., Monistat) as directed. Women who have had yeast infections whenever they take antibiotics in the past should use these preparations during the period of antibiotic treatment.
  • Douche with a mild solution of one to three tablespoons of vinegar diluted in a quart of warm water. Repeat once a day until the symptoms subside, but do not use longer than a week.
  • Limit your intake of sugar and foods that contain sugar since sugar promotes the growth of yeast.
  • Eat yogurt and other foods that contain live cultures of lactobacillus acidophilus several times daily (especially when taking an antibiotic). If you can't tolerate yogurt, ask your pharmacist for an over-the-counter product that contains this beneficial bacteria (lactobacillus acidophilus).

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Copyright © 1996 Don R. Powell, Ph.D. From The American Institute for Preventive Medicine's Self-Care: Your Family Guide to Symptoms and How to Treat Them, by arrangement with People«s Medical Society.

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