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What's Available for Treating Vaginal Yeast

By Dr. Kristie

Vaginal yeast infections are caused by tiny fungi called candida. These organisms are normally present on the skin and cause no problem, but sometimes changes occur that allow this organism to start multiplying – leading to vaginal itching, discharge, and irritation.  Fortunately, there are a variety of non-prescription treatments for vaginal yeast available at the drugstore, but selecting a product can be perplexing since there are so many forms available. Here’s how to cut through the confusion and pick the vaginal candida treatment that best suits your needs.

Treatments for Vaginal Yeast: A Word of Caution

Not all vaginal infections are caused by yeast. Some can be caused by infection with bacteria or a group of bacteria – also known as non-specific vaginitis – while still others can have more serious causes such as sexually transmitted diseases. For this reason, it’s not a good idea to diagnose and self-treat. Unless the symptoms are very mild and similar to yeast infections you’ve had before, it’s best to see a doctor and make sure you know what you’re treating. If you do decide to use an over-the-counter treatment for treating vaginal itching and burning, see your doctor if it doesn’t completely clear up in seven days.

Treating Vaginal Yeast Infections: What’s Available at the Drugstore?

The most common drugstore treatments for yeast infection contain an anti-fungal medication called miconazole. The most popular miconazole containing yeast treatments are Monistat-3 and Monistat-7. Monistat-3 is available as a cream or suppository to be used for three days, while Monistat-7 is designed for seven day treatment.

The difference between the two is that Monistat-3 is a more concentrated form of miconazole, but it won’t clear up the symptoms any faster. Even if you use Monistat-3, it can take up to seven days for the symptoms to go away. The advantage to using Monistat-3 over Monistat-7 is convenience – since you don’t have to use it as long.

There’s also a Monistat-1 on the market that only needs to be applied a single time, but some people find that this more concentrated higher dose doesn’t always completely cure their infection. It’s best to stick with the Monistat-3 or Monistat-7 treatments.


Products

AZO Yeast Infection Symptoms

Monistat 3 Vaginal Antifungal Cream

Monistat 7 Vaginal Antifungal Cream


Vaginal Candida Treatment: Other Types of Monistat

You can also buy Monistat-1, 3, and 7 in the form of a triple action system. In addition to the standard suppository or cream, it contains an external itch relief cream and wipes to help soothe irritated tissue. This option is more expensive, but may be worth it if you have a lot of external itching.

Treating Vaginal Yeast with Prescriptions

Vaginal yeast can also be treated with a single dose of a medication called Fluconazole prescribed by a doctor. This has the advantage of being convenient – although it does involve using a medication you take by mouth. Fluconazole is generally safe when used as a single dose – so much so that it will soon be available over-the-counter in Canada. Most of the side effects with this medication occur when people use it longer term for more serious fungal infections. People who are on certain medications – particularly blood thinners – shouldn’t use Fluconazole without talking to their doctor first.

The Bottom Line?

Mild yeast infections can be treated by using one of several drugstore formulations of Monistat. If they don’t clear they may need treatment with oral Fluconazole.

References:

Prescriber’s Letter. February 2010. page 10.

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