Effective Vaginal Yeast Infection Treatments
A yeast infection is a common condition that develops when the overgrowth of a type of fungus called Candida is triggered. This infection usually occurs in or around the genitals.
There are a number of ways to treat a vaginal yeast infection, including over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications, home remedies, and lifestyle changes.
If left untreated, a yeast infection may cause a number of health complications that can lead to recurring issues that could potentially be life-threatening.
If your symptoms don’t seem to improve with treatment, it’s important to speak to your doctor. This could be an indication of an underlying health condition or a more severe infection that requires specialized treatment.
Vaginal yeast infections are especially prevalent among women and will affect around 75% at least once in their lifetime.
Although they may be uncomfortable to deal with, yeast infections must be treated to avoid additional health concerns.
That’s why it’s important to know which treatment options are available and how they work to help you overcome an infection.
What is a Yeast Infection?
A vaginal yeast infection — or vaginal candidiasis — is a condition that develops in or around the genital area when there is an overgrowth of the fungus Candida.
Many external factors can trigger this overgrowth. These include hormonal changes, the use of certain medications, and poor lifestyle habits.
If you develop a yeast infection, you may experience itching, irritation, and abnormal discharge in the genital region.
How is a yeast infection diagnosed?
If you suspect that you have a yeast infection, it’s recommended to consult a healthcare provider for a professional diagnosis.
They’ll typically ask you about your medical history and symptoms, including any recent changes in medication, lifestyle, or hygiene practices.
After this, your doctor might perform a pelvic examination to check for external signs of infection. During the examination, they may take a sample of vaginal discharge to test for the presence of bacteria to rule out bacterial vaginosis.
Once you’ve been diagnosed, your doctor will inform you of the severity of your infection and recommend appropriate treatment methods.
What are the Treatment Options for a Vaginal Yeast Infection?
Although yeast infections can go away on their own, they can cause severe discomfort and further complications. That’s why it’s usually better to treat them as soon as possible.
Vaginal yeast infections are highly treatable and can be managed in a variety of ways, depending on how serious your case is.
In this section, we’ll take a closer look at common treatment methods that can help you overcome your infection.
Over-the-counter (OTC) medications
OTC medications are often the first line of defense against yeast infections. Popular options include:
These medications are usually available in various forms — including antifungal creams, vaginal suppositories, and ointments — that work by inhibiting the growth of infection-causing fungi.
They typically provide relief from symptoms of a yeast infection within a few days and are generally safe to use.
Supplements like probiotics may also be an effective OTC treatment for yeast infections.
Probiotics contain strains of healthy bacteria that can promote a healthy and balanced vaginal environment. This helps to reduce the risk of triggering a fungal overgrowth.
It’s recommended to use probiotics containing Lactobacillus strains, as these have proven to be effective in balancing normal bacterial flora in the vagina, helping to prevent yeast infections from recurring.
For more severe or recurrent yeast infections, you may need to take prescription-strength medications like fluconazole.
These medications are usually taken orally or administered through vaginal suppositories and are used to treat yeast infections that don’t respond to OTC remedies.
If you have a weakened immune system, your doctor may also recommend prescription medication to avoid further health complications like secondary infections.
Yeast infections are typically not treated by taking antibiotics because they are designed to kill bacteria and are not always effective against fungi.
Several home remedies can also be effective in providing symptomatic relief for vaginal yeast infections. Popular options include:
- Applying plain yogurt to the affected area
- Applying diluted essential oils to the area around the genitals
- Eating more garlic
- Using boric acid
- Increasing your intake of vitamin C through supplements or diet
Although these remedies can be helpful, you should never insert any products into your vagina. This can worsen your infection and prolong symptoms, which may lead to further complications.
Many of the remedies listed above can kill and remove infection-causing fungi from the body, allowing them to successfully treat a vaginal infection.
It’s important to note that home remedies typically work best when used in combination with OTC or prescription medications.
If you’re considering using home remedies, it’s recommended that you speak to your doctor about them first to determine if they would be appropriate for you.
In addition to medications and home remedies, implementing certain lifestyle changes can play a crucial role in managing vaginal yeast infections.
The following changes are recommended:
Wear cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothing to help prevent a build-up of moisture
Get regular exercise and practice stress management to support a healthy immune system
Develop good personal hygiene habits, like properly washing and drying your genitals
Avoid using fragranced soaps or cleansers that can upset the balance of microorganisms in the vagina and trigger an infection
Avoid douching, which can change the vaginal pH levels, leading to irritation in this area
It’s important to note that while lifestyle changes can help alleviate uncomfortable symptoms, they usually aren’t sufficiently effective to get rid of an infection completely.
These changes must be combined with medications and/or home remedies for the most comprehensive approach to overcoming your yeast infection.
Do Vaginal Yeast Infection Treatments Have Any Side Effects?
The treatment options for vaginal yeast infections are generally well-tolerated and usually won’t cause adverse reactions. In rare cases, the following mild side effects may occur:
- Mild burning, itching, or irritation at the area of application
- Gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain when taking oral medications
- Digestive issues such as bloating or gas when starting a probiotic regimen
Although extremely rare, some patients may experience a severe allergic reaction — developing a rash, hives, and swelling — and will require professional medical attention.
It’s important to discuss your concerns about potential side effects with your doctor before starting any treatment.
You should also mention any allergies or underlying health conditions to help them determine the most appropriate treatment option for you.
If you’ve started treatment, remember to follow the recommended dosage and application instructions provided by your doctor to minimize the risk of side effects.
How Long Will a Yeast Infection Last?
The duration of a vaginal yeast infection will vary depending on its severity, the chosen treatment method, and your overall health.
In most cases, mild to moderate yeast infections tend to resolve within a few days, but some can take up to two weeks to fully clear. OTC medications will typically provide symptomatic relief after using them for a couple of days.
It’s essential to follow the treatment plan recommended by your doctor to ensure that you overcome the infection completely.
Failing to do this may lead to persistent or recurrent yeast infections that may cause further health complications.
If the infection doesn’t seem to improve with treatment, it’s recommended to see your doctor as soon as possible.
Persistent infections may indicate a more severe case or underlying health condition that requires a different treatment approach.
Can Yeast Infections Resolve Without Treatment?
In some cases, mild yeast infections can go away without specific treatment — especially if the body’s immune system is strong enough to control a yeast overgrowth on its own.
However, it’s important to note that leaving yeast infections untreated can potentially lead to other complications while increasing your risk of recurrent infections.
An untreated yeast infection may also worsen over time and the symptoms can become more severe, increasing your discomfort.
It can also spread to other parts of the body and lead to secondary infections like thrush or rashes on the skin.
In severe cases, the infection can spread and yeast can contaminate the bloodstream, causing a potentially life-threatening condition called invasive candidiasis.
That’s why it’s always important to seek professional medical advice to determine the best course of action for overcoming a yeast infection.
When Should You See a Doctor About a Yeast Infection?
Although a yeast infection rarely requires medical intervention, it’s important to know when to seek professional care to avoid serious complications.
You should make an appointment to see your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- Persistent or severe symptoms that don’t improve with OTC treatment or home remedies
- Recurrent yeast infections
- Abnormal changes in vaginal discharge
It’s also recommended to see a doctor if you’re experiencing yeast infection symptoms for the first time.
Consulting your doctor is a good idea if you have underlying health conditions — like diabetes, a weakened immune system, or HIV/AIDS — to determine an appropriate treatment option for you.
If you are pregnant and suspect that you have a yeast infection, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Pregnancy can make you more vulnerable to secondary infections and cause complications for you and your baby.
Where Can You Learn More About Yeast Infections and Similar Conditions?
If you’re concerned about your symptoms or want to know more about treating vaginal yeast infections, LifeMD is here to help.