Yeast infections are a common problem—in fact, 30-50% of women will experience at least one in their lifetime. Still, if you think you have one, it’s important to confirm with your doctor.
“Some of the symptoms of a yeast infection are the same as symptoms of other conditions, including bacterial vaginal infections,” says Andrew Chang, MD, an OB-GYN who sees patients at Kettering Physician Network Women’s Health-Hamilton West. “To treat your condition correctly, you need to get an accurate diagnosis first.”
So, what should you be looking out for? Symptoms can be mild to severe and include
· Vaginal burning
· Pain with urination
· Pain during sexual intercourse.
How to treat a yeast infection
Diagnosing these symptoms means making a trip to the doctor’s office for a physical exam and lab tests. If you do have a yeast infection, your doctor may prescribe antifungal medication.
The medication is available as a cream, tablet, and suppository (sometimes with a prescription only).
Taking this medication for 3-7 days will usually clear a yeast infection. If symptoms persist or worsen, you should follow up with your gynecologist.
“Many people take probiotics to prevent or treat vaginal infections, but scientific research doesn’t support this,” Dr. Chang says. “Other non-medical therapies such as yogurt, garlic, low-carbohydrate diets, and douching aren’t proven to be effective, either.”
Reducing your risk
Yeast infections are rarely serious, but they also aren’t pleasant. Your best defense is to reduce your risk factors as much as possible, especially if you have already had a yeast infection.
Dr. Chang recommends:
· Avoiding tight-fitting clothing
· Wearing breathable, cotton underwear to prevent excess moisture
· Managing uncontrolled diabetes
Some women develop a yeast infection after taking an antibiotic for another type of infection. If this has happened to you, talk to your doctor before starting any antibiotics in the future.
“Your OB-GYN can diagnose a yeast infection and help you get back to feeling more like yourself quickly,” Dr. Chang says. “And if for some reason, the infection returns or doesn’t respond to medication, your doctor can offer other treatment options as well.”