Clindamycin (Clindesse): Basics, Side Effects & Reviews
Clindamycin (Clindesse)

Clindamycin (Clindesse, Cleocin)

Basics, Side Effects, Reviews & More

Warning Icon Are you looking for information on clindamycin (Cleocin) oral capsule or clindamycin (Cleocin-T) topical instead?

Clindamycin (Clindesse) treats bacterial vaginal infections and has very few side effects. It comes in different formulations, like creams and suppositories.


Clindesse, Cleocin


Lincosamide antibiotic


Not a controlled medication


Lower-cost generic available


Prescription only

Reviewed by:

Christina Aungst, PharmD

Ly Neal, PharmD

Last reviewed on:

February 20, 2021


What is clindamycin (Clindesse)?

How clindamycin (Clindesse) works

Clindamycin (Clindesse) is a lincosamide antibiotic. It's a type of antibiotic that gets rid of infections by preventing the growth and spread of certain bacteria.

What is clindamycin (Clindesse) used for?

  • Bacterial vaginal infections (bacterial vaginosis)

Clindamycin (Clindesse) dosage forms

tube of cream icon
tube of cream

Typical dosing for clindamycin (Clindesse)

  • Vaginal cream (Clindesse): Insert 1 applicatorful into the vagina once at any time of the day. This brand is not approved for use in pregnant women.
  • Vaginal cream (Cleocin): Insert 1 applicatorful into the vagina once a day, preferably at bedtime. If you are not pregnant, you will use this medication for 3 or 7 days. If you are pregnant, you will use this medication for 7 days.
  • Vaginal suppository (Cleocin): Insert 1 suppository into the vagina once a day, preferably at bedtime, for 3 days. The suppository formulation is not approved for use in pregnant women.

Frequently asked questions about clindamycin (Clindesse)

Pros and cons of clindamycin (Clindesse)


Thumbs UpEasy to use and works within a few days

Thumbs UpDoesn't have many side effects

Thumbs UpSafe to use if you're pregnant (Cleocin vaginal cream)

Thumbs UpYou can stand up and walk around right after you use the Clindesse vaginal cream.


Thumbs DownCan cause yeast infections in some women

Thumbs DownCannot use condoms, diaphragms, or tampons for several days after finishing

Thumbs DownSingle-dose cream and suppositories can be expensive.

Thumbs DownShouldn't be used if you have bowel problems such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis

Pharmacist tips for clindamycin (Clindesse)

Capsule IconWash your hands before and after using clindamycin (Clindesse).

Capsule IconThe Clindesse vaginal cream comes in an applicator that is already measured out for you. You can insert the applicator the same way you would use a tampon. You don't have to lay down after inserting the cream, so it can be used at any time of day.

Capsule IconThe Cleocin vaginal cream comes with 7 disposable applicators, but they are not filled ahead of time for you. This means you need to draw up the cream into each applicator from a tube. Do not reuse the applicators. You should insert the medication while lying down on your back.

Capsule IconThe Cleocin vaginal suppositories come with a single, reusable appplicator. You do not need to use the applicator if you'd prefer not to. Just be sure to use a clean finger to insert the suppository instead. If you do choose to use the applicator, be sure to wash it with soap and warm water after each use. You should insert the suppositories while lying down on your back.

Capsule IconBoth the Cleocin vaginal cream and suppositories should be used at bedtime. Some of the medication might leak out afterwards, so it's a good idea to wear a panty liner while using it.

Capsule IconYou shouldn't have sex or use any vaginal products, like douches or tampons, while you use this medication. If you are using Clindesse vaginal cream, you should also avoid sex and avoid using vaginal products for 7 days after using it.

Capsule IconClindamycin (Clindesse) can weaken or break condoms and vaginal diaphragms while you are using it and for 3 days after finishing Cleocin or 5 days after finishing Clindesse. These barrier methods will not be reliable for preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) during this time.

Prices for clindamycin (Clindesse) start at just $27.44 with a GoodRx coupon. They’re fast, easy-to-use and free!

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What are the side effects of clindamycin (Clindesse)?

With any medication, there are risks and benefits. Even if the medication is working, you may experience some unwanted side effects.

Warning Small Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following:

  • Allergic reactions: Hives, rash, swelling of the lips or tongue, difficulty breathing
  • Severe diarrhea

Caution Small The following side effects may get better over time as your body gets used to the medication. Let your doctor know immediately if you continue to experience these symptoms or if they worsen over time.

Common side effects

  • Vaginal yeast infection
  • Headache
  • Back pain
  • Pain or discomfort in or around the vulva and vagina
  • Inflammation in or around the vulva and vagina

Other side effects

  • Constipation
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Skin yeast infections
  • Stomach pain or cramps
  • Irregular menstrual cycles

Source: DailyMed

The following side effects have also been reported:

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor or nurse immediately if any of the following side effects occur:


Cracks in the skin

loss of heat from the body

red, swollen skin

scaly skin

Incidence not known

Abdominal or stomach cramps, pain, or tenderness

black, tarry stools

bleeding gums

blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin


blood in the urine or stools

blurred vision

chest pain


clay-colored stools

cloudy urine


cough or hoarseness

dark urine

decrease in the amount of urine


diarrhea, watery and severe, which may also be bloody

difficulty with swallowing


dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position

dry mouth

fast heartbeat

fever with or without chills

general feeling of tiredness or weakness


heart stops

hives or welts, itching, or skin rash

increased thirst

itching of the vagina or genital area

joint or muscle pain

loss of appetite

lower back or side pain

nausea or vomiting

no breathing

no pulse or blood pressure

pain during sexual intercourse

pain in the lower back or side

pain, tenderness, or swelling of the foot or leg

painful or difficult urination

pinpoint red spots on the skin

puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue


rash with flat lesions or small raised lesions on the skin

red skin lesions, often with a purple center

red, irritated eyes

redness of the skin

shortness of breath

sore throat

sores, ulcers, or white spots in the mouth or on the lips

swollen glands

thick, white vaginal discharge with no odor or with a mild odor


tightness in the chest


unpleasant breath odor

unusual bleeding or bruising

unusual tiredness or weakness

unusual weight loss

vomiting of blood

yellow eyes or skin

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

Incidence not known

Bitter taste

changes in skin color

pain, lump, or irritation at the injection site

Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What are the risks and warnings for clindamycin (Clindesse)?

Clindamycin (Clindesse) can cause some serious health issues. This risk may be even higher for certain groups. If this worries you, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about other options


  • Risk factors: Known allergy to clindamycin | Known allergy to lincosamides

Allergic reactions to clindamycin (Clindesse) are possible, including life-threatening problems like anaphylaxis or airway swelling. Call 911 if this happens. If you notice hives, a rash, swelling of the lips or tongue, or difficulty breathing after using clindamycin (Clindesse), get medical help right away. You should not use clindamycin (Clindesse) if you know you are allergic to clindamycin or any lincosamide antibiotics.


  • Risk factors: History of Clostridioides difficile-associated diarrhea | Crohn's disease | Ulcerative colitis | Regional enteritis

Like all antibiotics, clindamycin (Clindesse) can cause diarrhea, because it gets rid of the good bacteria in your gut. In rare cases, this diarrhea is caused by a bacteria called Clostridioides difficile (commonly called C. diff) that is usually kept under control by your other gut bacteria. C. diff diarrhea is very contagious and can lead to life-threatening dehydration. If you have C. diff, be sure to wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds frequently and try to use a different bathroom from anyone living with you until you are better. Taking probiotic supplements while using clindamycin (Clindesse) might help prevent this problem. Having bowel problems, like Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, increases your risk of C. diff diarrhea while using antibiotics. Tell your provider if you have inflammatory bowel problems or have ever had severe diarrhea after using antibiotics before.


Clindamycin (Clindesse) can cause condoms and vaginal diaphragms to weaken and break. This puts you at risk for an unwanted pregnancy as well as sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It's important to avoid having sex until your infection is cleared up, as sex can make your symptoms worse.


It's not known if clindamycin (Clindesse) is safe to use in girls who haven't started their periods yet. Usually, bacterial vaginosis does not happen to young girls. Talk to your child's healthcare provider if you think your child has a vaginal infection.

Interactions between clindamycin (Clindesse) and other medications

Clindamycin (Clindesse) may interact with certain medications or supplements. Always let your doctor and pharmacist know about any other medications or supplements (including prescribed and over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and dietary or herbal supplements) that you are currently taking. The list below does not include all possible drug interactions with clindamycin (Clindesse). Please note that only the generic name of each medication is listed below.

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

  • Atracurium
  • Metocurine
  • Tubocurarine

How much does clindamycin (Clindesse) cost?

Clindamycin (Clindesse) is available as a generic medication and may be significantly cheaper compared to the brand version. Unless there is a specific reason you need the brand, the generic medication will be a better value. For even more savings, use a GoodRx coupon and pay just a fraction of the retail price.

Lowest GoodRx Price
Clindesse, Cleocin (brand)


Lowest GoodRx Price
clindamycin (generic)


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Pricing based on most commonly-filled versions:

What are alternatives to clindamycin (Clindesse)?

There are a number of medications that your doctor can prescribe in place of clindamycin (Clindesse). Compare a few possible alternatives below.

Clindamycin (Clindesse)
Drug Class:Lincosamide antibiotic


lowest GoodRx price

View Prices
Metronidazole (vaginal)
Drug Class:Nitroimidazole antibiotic


lowest GoodRx price

View Prices
Tinidazole (Tindamax)
Drug Class:Nitroimidazole antibiotic


lowest GoodRx price

View Prices

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