How to Get Rid of a Yeast Infection
Clinically reviewed by Cindy Richardson, CMPE, Practice Manager, BHMG OBGYN
A yeast infection develops when a naturally occurring microorganism in the body grows too much. This type of fungus, called Candida, is present in healthy people’s gut, throat, mouth, and vagina.
Sometimes referred to as Candida infections or candidiasis, yeast infections are common and can affect men and women. However, they’re most common in the vagina.
This article provides information on vaginal yeast infections, including symptoms, causes, and treatments.
Vaginal Infection SymptomsVaginal yeast infections typically produce white, thick, clumpy vaginal discharge. It’s usually odorless or smells no different than normal secretions. You may also notice a white coating in and around your vagina.
Other Candida infection symptoms include redness in or around the vagina, burning, and itching. You may also find sex uncomfortable or painful and have a stinging sensation when you urinate.
In severe vaginal yeast infections, you can develop sores or fissures on your vulva or vagina.
What Causes Yeast Infections?
Vaginal yeast infections are typically caused by changes in vaginal chemistry, which can result from things like:
- Normal hormone level variations, such as during the menstrual cycle
- Weakened immune system
- Using medications like antibiotics, cortisone, and others
- A reaction to another person's genital chemistry
Yeast infections aren’t considered sexually transmitted infections (STIs) but can be passed between partners in rare instances. Also, a baby can get a fungal diaper rash if their mother has a yeast infection during delivery. In addition, Candida can be passed to a baby during breastfeeding if there is an overgrowth on the breast.
Yeast Infection TreatmentMost yeast infections can be resolved within a few days. Yeast infection treatments use antifungal medication to address the overgrowth. The type and course of treatment depend on the severity and frequency of infections. If you are pregnant, be sure to discuss treatment with your healthcare provider prior to beginning any medications.
Treating Mild to Moderate Yeast Infections
- Short-course vaginal therapy involves taking an antifungal medication like Monistat 3 or terconazole for three to seven days. There are over-the-counter and prescription medications.
- Single-dose oral medication treatment uses one dose of fluconazole (Diflucan) or two doses three days apart.
Treating Severe or Frequent Yeast Infections
- Long-course vaginal therapy is when you take a prescription antifungal medication daily for up to two weeks and then once weekly for six months.
- Multi-dose oral medication treatment involves taking two or three doses of prescription antifungal medication by mouth.
- Azole-resistant therapy uses a boric acid capsule inserted into your vagina. This medication can be fatal if swallowed and is prescribed to treat Candida fungus resistant to other yeast infection medicine.
You should contact your doctor if the recommended treatment doesn’t eliminate your symptoms, or they return within two months.
Home Remedies for Yeast InfectionsWhile home remedies aren’t as reliable or effective as medication, some people with yeast infections find they help. They include applying coconut or tea tree oil to the affected area, consuming plain yogurt, and others.
It’s a good idea to talk with your doctor about yeast infection home remedies, as your symptoms may be due to another cause.
Preparing to See Your Doctor About a Yeast Infection
Your appointment with your doctor regarding a yeast infection will be most productive if you take these actions before your visit:
- Write down your symptoms and how long you’ve had them.
- Make a list of medications, vitamins, or supplements you’re taking.
- Note any other medical conditions you have.
- Avoid using tampons or douching before your appointment.
- Note questions you want to ask your physician, including how yeast and urinary tract infections (UTIs) differ, what to expect from yeast infection treatment, what to do if your symptoms don’t fully resolve, etc.
At your appointment, your doctor will ask several questions, including whether you’ve had a yeast infection before, have tried over-the-counter treatment products, notice a strong odor, are sexually active or pregnant, use douches or feminine hygiene sprays, etc.