What is Vulvovaginal Candidiasis (Yeast Infection)?
A vaginal yeast infection is a type of vaginitis — inflammation of the vagina — characterized by vaginal irritation, intense itchiness and vaginal discharge. A vaginal yeast infection affects your vagina and the tissues at the opening to your vagina (vulva).
Vaginal yeast infection — also called vaginal candidiasis — is very common. As many as 3 out of 4 women experience a yeast infection at some point in their lifetimes. Many women experience two or more yeast infections.
A vaginal yeast infection isn’t considered a sexually transmitted infection, although the fungus that causes the condition can be spread through oral-genital contact. Simple treatment is usually effective, unless you have recurrent yeast infections — four or more in a single year. In that case, you may need a longer course of therapy and a maintenance plan.
How Do You Treat Vulvovaginal Candidiasis (Yeast Infection)?
Yeast infection treatment depends on whether you have an uncomplicated or a complicated infection.
Uncomplicated yeast infection
For mild to moderate symptoms and infrequent episodes of yeast infection, your doctor might recommend:
- Short-course vaginal therapy. A one-time application or one-to-three-day regimen of an antifungal cream, ointment, tablet or suppository effectively clears a yeast infection in most cases. The medication of choice is from a class of drugs called the azoles; these include butoconazole (Gynazole-1), clotrimazole (Gyne-Lotrimin), miconazole (Monistat 3) and terconazole (Terazol 3). These medications are available by prescription or over-the-counter. The oil-based nature of these agents in cream and suppository form could potentially weaken latex condoms and diaphragms. Side effects might include slight burning or irritation during application.
- Single-dose oral medication. Your doctor might prescribe a one-time single dose of the antifungal medication fluconazole (Diflucan) to be taken by mouth.
Make a follow-up appointment with your doctor if you’ve finished your treatment and your symptoms haven’t gone away or if your symptoms return within two months of being treated.
Complicated yeast infection
Treatment for a complicated yeast infection might include:
- Long-course vaginal therapy. Vaginal treatment for complicated yeast infections includes an azole medication in the form of a vaginal cream, ointment, tablet or suppository. The duration of treatment is usually seven to 14 days.
- Multidose oral medication. Instead of vaginal therapy, your doctor might prescribe two or three doses of fluconazole to be taken by mouth. However, this therapy isn’t recommended for pregnant women.
- Maintenance plan. For recurrent yeast infections, your doctor might recommend a medication routine to keep yeast overgrowth in check and prevent future infections. Maintenance therapy starts after the initial treatment clears the yeast infection and may include fluconazole tablets taken by mouth once a week for six months. Some doctors prescribe clotrimazole as a vaginal tablet (suppository) used once a week instead of an oral medication.
Usually, your sex partner doesn’t also need to be treated for a yeast infection. If you have recurrent yeast infections, your doctor might recommend treating your partner if your partner has signs or symptoms of a genital yeast infection — for instance, jock itch in a male partner — or using condoms during intercourse.
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