Yeast infections are no fun – but they do happen to pretty much all women. And while the itching, burning, and white, odorless discharge that comes with it can be frustrating, effective remedies are available to quickly treat and relieve your symptoms.
First off, yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of a microscopic yeast called Candida albicans, which normally already lives in the vagina. To manage symptoms, you can start with over-the-counter creams, but you should place a call to your doctor as we may have better prescription options. Uncomplicated yeast infections usually respond to treatment within a couple of days. If your symptoms keep getting worse or last longer than that, call for another appointment.
In my experience, the best treatment comes down to medicated creams or a pill. Studies show that these creams and the oral pill, fluconazole, both work more than 90% of the time.
- Over-the-counter creams. A variety of topical preparations are available over the counter and come in single-dose, 3-day, and 7-day regimens. Monistat and Gyne-Lotrimin come in 3- and 7-day preparations, and both work well.
- Prescription creams. Two topical yeast medications require a prescription. Butoconazole (Gynazole-1) cream is used as a single dose — one time and you’re done. It’s expensive. Terconazole (Terazol or Zazole), also available by prescription, comes in 3- and 7-day regimens.
- The yeast infection pill. The treatment of choice is a single 150 mg oral dose of fluconazole (Diflucan). Most women consider the pill more convenient than creams applied intravaginally. A cool fact is that a single 150 mg dose of fluconazole maintains effective, therapeutic concentrations in vaginal secretions for at least 72 hours after you take it.
The upsides of creams?
Creams are available over the counter and have few side effects, whereas the fluconazole single-dose pill may cause upset stomach, headache, and rash. The fluconazole single-dose pill may also take a day or two longer than topical therapy to relieve symptoms.
The upsides of the pill?
Generic fluconazole as a single dose is less expensive than over-the-counter topical antifungals. Also, fungal resistance to fluconazole is not common, so it’s still very effective. And again, patients seem to prefer oral treatment over creams.