There are many efficient treatments for vaginal yeast infections, properly called “vulvovaginal candidiasis.” Although several are available over the counter, it is still a good idea to visit a doctor to be sure that the infection is, in fact, caused by yeast. Several other vaginal infections develop similar symptoms of itching, unusual discharge, and pain, especially during intercourse—chlamydia and bacterial vaginosis among them. These can also develop in tandem with candidiasis if the infection gets too severe or goes on for too long without treatment.
If you develop more than four to six yeast infections over the course of a year, experts say it is extremely important to go to a doctor, to figure out why the infections are so frequent, and to check for underlying risks and causes, such as immune disorders or hormone changes.
One of the most popular treatments is Monistat and similar products. Whether name brand or off brand, there are a large variety of options. While some products are a cream inside a tube similar to a plastic tampon applicator, some are a less messy version—a large pearl of cream that softens and releases once inserted. These products may require only one application or as many as seven. When these products are used too often, however, the yeast can build up a resistance to the active ingredient, miconazole nitrate.
These items often come with a small tube of external vaginal cream as well, to help control the itching while the medicine begins to take effect. Regardless of which version you choose, (even the ones that say they are for morning or evening), these products are more effective when used at night, when the body will be flat for several hours instead of an upright position that does nothing to keep the cream inside. It is a good idea to use a panty liner either way, as these products do tend to leak out over time. You can use these while on your period, although it’s a good idea not to use tampons at the same time so that the tampon doesn’t absorb the medication.
Azeo is an over the counter pill that claims to work well on yeast infections. While it may help prevent them and may lessen symptoms, this treatment will not completely cure candidiasis. Your doctor may prescribe an oral medication, however, which requires only one dose. Nystatin is a small pill, which is much quicker and easier than several rounds of cream inserts.
There are several homeopathic options bandied about as effective, and while some people prefer to try these, they are rarely as effective as an actual medication. Although some women find success with them, they are the exception, not the rule.
Eating yogurt (plain, unflavored yogurt, as sugar can make the infection worse) while you have candidiasis can help, but it isn’t going to fix the problem entirely. All-natural enthusiasts often recommend putting a dollop of yogurt directly on the vagina, as the coolness is soothing and the cultures in yogurt combat yeast. However, you might as well just use a cool, wet washcloth to provide relief, which is less messy and guaranteed not to have any adverse effects.