Most women are bothered at one time or another by vaginitis -- the itching, burning, pain, and discharge that comes with a vaginal yeast infection. Yeast infections can be caused by a number of organisms, many of which inhabit the healthy vagina. One of the most common causes of vaginitis is the fungus Candida albicans. The annoying symptoms can include itching, discharge that has a "baked bread" odor, and reddening of the labia and, in some cases, the upper thigh.
Once you start using an OTC anti-fungal medication, your yeast infection symptoms will probably begin to disappear within a few days. As with antibiotics, though, it's extremely important to continue to use your medication for the entire number of days recommended. Even if your symptoms have gone away, the fungus may still be active enough to cause a relapse.

Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Vaginal yeast infection is often seen as a side effect of cancer treatment. Your white blood cells, which normally keep the yeast usually found in your vagina and digestive tract from overgrowing, can be reduced by chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Steroid drugs can also reduce your immune system's ability to maintain balance. High-dose antibiotics sometimes used in cancer treatment can also give way to a yeast infection.
It’s no wonder why you might not want to head to the doctor to treat a yeast infection. Waiting to see the doctor can extend your itchy vagina experience, and actually following through with the appointment can be time-consuming. Plus, isn’t that the entire point of all those at-home yeast infection treatments at the drugstore? We spoke with ob/gyns to find out: When the going gets cottage cheesy, is it OK to just treat a yeast infection at home?
Over-the-counter antifungal creams, ointments or suppositories (with miconazole or clotrimazole) are the most common ways to treat yeast infections. These can take from 1 to 7 days. Your doctor may also prescribe a single-dose pill with fluconazole (an antifungal medicine) for you to take. If you’re pregnant, it’s safe to use creams or suppositories, but not the fluconazole you take by mouth.
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