Many women are all too familiar with the signs and symptoms of a yeast infection: thick, white vaginal discharge that resembles cottage cheese, itching, irritation, and redness and swelling of the labia. A yeast infection can be a miserable experience, but how do you know if that’s what it really is?
How can I confirm a yeast infection?
If you think you might have a yeast infection, but are experiencing symptoms for the first time, it’s a good idea to check in with your health care provider. He or she will perform a pelvic exam and may do some testing to determine if it’s yeast that’s causing your symptoms. Other infections such as bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia can cause similar symptoms. It’s important to rule these out, because the treatment for each is different.
If you’ve had a yeast infection before and think you might have one again, there are over-the-counter tests to help you determine the likelihood of yeast being the culprit. With yeast testing kits, you can test the pH of your vaginal discharge to determine whether it’s acidic (likely yeast) or basic (possibly something else).
I’m pretty sure I have a yeast infection. What do I do?
If you’re familiar with the symptoms of a yeast infection, and feel one coming on again, it’s OK to go ahead and try treating it with an over-the-counter antifungal product like miconazole vaginal suppositories. With these products, the longer duration treatment is generally more effective than the shorter one, so opt for the seven-day rather than the one-day version.
Another option for treatment is fluconazole, an oral tablet that you take when you’re experiencing symptoms. This usually results in improvement within a few days. However, fluconazole is available by prescription only.
I’m not completely sure about my symptoms. What should I do?
If you’ve had a yeast infection before, but you aren’t quite sure if your current symptoms are the same, get in touch with your provider. Even if you’re pretty sure it’s yeast, if you’ve tried over-the-counter treatment and it isn’t working, it’s time to call your provider.