Make the itching stoppp
May 23, 2011 10:44 AM   Subscribe

Any last-ditch yeast infection treatments that worked for you? Also, has anyone experienced persistent recurring yeast infections on Synthroid or other replacement thyroid hormones?

I've tried everything, it seems. I've completely upended my diet to stop eating sugars (I am the kind of person for whom dessert makes life worth living so this has been a huge and horrible change), quit drinking alcohol, multiple courses of Diflucan. I'm going panty-less whenever possible, taking probiotics twice a day, blowdrying my pelvis silly when I get out of the shower. My husband even went in and got his own Diflucan to take. Yet this yeast just keeps popping back up. I woke up with that familiar tingling sensation this morning and basically wanted to die.

My doctor's next plan is to take me off Nuva Ring, which I really don't want to do. I like Nuva Ring and I've been on it for 7 years without incident up to now. Right before these infections began, I started taking Synthroid, and I'm wondering if that might be exacerbating things.

I know you're not my doctor, and my doctor is very much involved here, but it seems like every doctor has a different approach to treating persistent yeast, and if anything weird worked for you that let you stay on the HBC you liked, I would be glad to try it. Thanks!
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (29 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Herbal Healing for Women by Rosemary Gladstar talks about a few last-ditch remedies that have worked. I don't have the book on hand to give you details but really recommend the tea-tree oil treatment she describes.
posted by zem at 10:56 AM on May 23, 2011

Boric acid. No jeans or tight pants.

I hope when you talk about blowdrying you just mean the hair.
posted by serena15221 at 10:59 AM on May 23, 2011

Boric acid suppositories (if you are not pregnant), topical grapefruit seed oil. You can also ingest grapefruit seed oil (eight drops per cup of water is the guideline I was given - IANAD). The boric acid is the big guns, in my experience. Apart from the suppositories (you can find boric acid powder at any pharmacy - I make capsules myself) you can also apply boric acid topically.
posted by annathea at 11:00 AM on May 23, 2011

Back when I ran in a more hippie-ish circle, I was constantly told of the miracles of sending some garlic where you don't usually think to look for it. A quick search tells me that this is a real thing. I've never tried it, but hell, I'm sure you've got some garlic in the kitchen, so why not give it a go?
posted by troublewithwolves at 11:04 AM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

I haven't tried the garlic but I have heard lots of warnings about "if you use it MAKE SURE there is not a single scratch on it that breaks the skin of the clove or you will burn yourself and will be sad." FWIW, which is not much since I haven't tried it.

Have you gone to a Naturopath? Going by anecdotal evidence, they sometimes succeed when it's a matter of your body's chemistry being out of balance.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:08 AM on May 23, 2011

My first-line treatment for yeast is always to put an unpeeled clove of garlic up my vag overnight. In the daytime, I use a syringe/plastic applicator with whole natural yogurt, which is both soothing and has live cultures that combat yeast. (You will want a cotton pad for that; it drips.)

I am not, for the record, particularly hippyish or opposed to western medicine. I am, however, lazy and these are things I can do at home that have been uniformly effective for me.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:15 AM on May 23, 2011 [8 favorites]

Boric acid suppositories are great. My gyn recommended them and I got them at a compounding pharmacy. They aren't covered under insurance (not a prescription item), but they were not expensive. I use them whenever I feel like the flora are getting out of whack down there.

I have also used garlic to good effect. I don't think the nicking thing is true - I'm pretty sure I had a nicked piece with no burning. It does, however, make you smell like garlic. I was even getting a faint taste of garlic. Also, whenever I went to the bathroom it made me hungry which is just weird.
posted by jeoc at 11:24 AM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've tried the garlic solution. You nick the clove a few times before insertion. It gives you garlic breath, though.

I have tried many solutions, including the boric acid listed above, tea tree oil, etc. The Boric acid works fairly well, but does cause some oozing, which was irritating to my outer tissues a bit. Tea tree oil can be very effective, but never use it straight. It can be very irritating, and some people are very sensitive to the problem.

I make an ointment which is about 20 drops of tea tree oil to about 3 tablespoons of coconut oil. This helps a lot with exterior irritation, and is really good if you have excessive boobs and get fungal problems underboob.

In your diet have you eliminated fruits and processed flours too? I had a doctor recommend eating a diet similar to the zone diet. That same doctor put me on a 6 month (approximately) regimen if diflucan. That pretty much cleared up the recurring yeast problems for me. For something like that, your liver function has to be monitored.

Birth control pills so make you more prone to yeast infections, so the Nuva ring may be aggravating the problem.

I take levo for my thyroid problem, but have also taken armour and a couple of other types.. None of them have seemed to affect my yeast problem, though.

Have you thought about a possible food allergy? I wonder if that might affect your yeast problems.

Clearly, IANAD
posted by annsunny at 11:24 AM on May 23, 2011

I had a persistent yeast infection last year after not having one in about twenty years. Would not go away no matter what over the counter remedy I tried.
I then did two things: started taking acidophilous pearls, and inserted yorgurt. The infection disappeared in about three days.
Now, when I feel it coming back (I suspect it's because of how much I sweat daily at the gym, but who knows-everything checked out fine at the gyno), I will make sure to take an acidophilous once or twice a day, and just for the instant soothing effect, put insert a yogurt chunk from the freezer.
This is how I managed the yogurt: I made a makeshift tray out of a couple of layers of aluminum foil, shaping furrows, or tubes in it, filled the furrows with regular store bought plain yogurt, and froze. When frozen, I broke each long tube of yogurt into one inch or inch and a half long pieces, and kept in a freezer bag in the freezer.
Insert into vagina as necessary. Very instant and very complete soothing of symptoms.
posted by newpotato at 11:27 AM on May 23, 2011

Response by poster: Have you been put on a serious antifungal like ketoconazole? I would try the boric acid, garlic cloves, all that stuff first because keto is a serious medication (can cause liver issues), but ketoconazole might be your next best bet. Diflucan is a fungal suppressant, not a fungicide, and it supposed to suppress growth so your body can kill the rest off. If it can't, you need something stronger.
posted by Anonymous at 11:28 AM on May 23, 2011

I have a friend who had a recurring yeast infection for five years that finally went away after she started taking pau d'arco capsules. I'd try that if you're running out of ideas.
posted by KathrynT at 11:30 AM on May 23, 2011

Cuttting out wheat and refined sugars definitely helps, as does high-strength acidophilous (Nature's Way seemed to be quickest for me but was hard to source in UK as is US product) and natural yoghurt. Caprylic acid and vitamin B supplements seem to have kept it at bay for the past year or so too. Have you been tested for BV? I know a few people who have suffered from recurrent and alternating yeast infections and BV and were initially confusing the two.
posted by joboe at 11:32 AM on May 23, 2011

Consider buying this book: The V Book: A Doctor's Guide to Complete Vulvovaginal Health, by Elizabeth G. Stewart. It solved the problem for me.

Boric acid suppositories really work. I make my own by filling size 0 gelatin capsules and fill them with NF grade (not insecticide grade) boric acid powder. They're not supposed to contain more than 600 milligrams of boric acid per dose.
posted by artistic verisimilitude at 11:39 AM on May 23, 2011

Fluconazole works for me, but a single tablet doesn't do squat. My doctor prescribed a three day course, and a 7 day course is typical for thrush, so ask your physician if a higher dose or multi-day course might help your vaginal yeast infection.
posted by ladypants at 12:01 PM on May 23, 2011

Nthing the boric acid recommendation!

You can make your own boric acid suppositories—just buy a bottle of boric acid and some gel caps. For anecdotal evidence of how well this works, look at the reviews for Boric Acid on But this is an apparently accepted treatment (see Table 2 in this article in American Family Physician. You might need to treat an infection with suppositories for about 14 days, (but you can get relief within about 2 days). Also, consider using a suppository at the start of your period and occasionally after intercourse to correct the pH and make the environment less hospitable to the yeast.
posted by gubenuj at 12:09 PM on May 23, 2011

I went through an 18 month period with a recurring yeast infection. It was the most miserable period of my life. After repeated attempts with prescription antifungals failed, I tried a series of the following:

1. Tea tree oil suppositories and tea tree oil soaked tampon
2. Garlic cloves
3. Acidophilus capsules
4. Gentian violet soaked tampon (be careful of the staining)
5. Plain whole milk unflavored yogurt
6. Boric acid capsules

I can't tell you which did it, or if it was a combination of them, but eventually I prevailed. I would personally ditch the NuvaRing in your position, I know that you don't want to but given its location it could be exacerbating the situation.
posted by crankylex at 12:10 PM on May 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

After getting recurring yeast infections that would not go away with OTC creams or Diflucan. I now use garlic when I feel that special tingling coming on (Antibiotics and my period are prime yeast infection triggers). I cut the ends off a large clove to peel it, then insert the garlic at night and take it out in the morning. If you have a full blown infection you may have to use the garlic for a full week, but if you get that clove in at the first sensation it usually clears in a couple of days. I have not noticed any burning sensation.

The other thing that seems to help is to take salt water baths daily until it clears up. I generally use about a cup of sea salt to a full tub of water and soak for about 20 minutes or until I got bored. You could just do a sitz bath if you wanted.
posted by ephemerista at 12:14 PM on May 23, 2011

you do pee after PIV sex without condoms, right? The acidic climate in the vagina can be upset by sperm, leading to yeast infections.
posted by meijusa at 12:18 PM on May 23, 2011

Are you certain that it is a yeast infection? I once had a devil of a time with a persistent yeast infection - even going to my doctor saying I had a yeast infection and getting something for it -- and finally I went back to the doctor and asked that we check whether a yeast infection was what it actually was.

It wasn't -- it was Trichomoniasis. Once my doctor and I established that, she gave me a course of the medicine for that, and it stopped.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:24 PM on May 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

Another vote for direct insertion of plain yogurt. Usually I just soak and insert a tampon. You did not specifically mention how you knew for sure that it is yeast. But it is always good to make sure the type of infection as it could be BV and some of the remedies for that differ. Best of luck.
posted by heatherly at 12:26 PM on May 23, 2011

This could be BV not yeast at all. Or could be Trich. Has your doc tested for other things?
posted by tristeza at 12:34 PM on May 23, 2011

I use full-strength tea tree oil (applied internally via tampon, and also a liberal external amount) when an infection is in full swing. It "warms and tingles" pretty intensely, but it actually feels pretty nice and is a real relief from the itching / burning symptoms.

Work up to full strength gradually though, if you want to try it.
posted by pajamazon at 12:58 PM on May 23, 2011

I am on generic synthroid and haven't had any yeast infections since I started taking it. I *did* have recurrent yeast infections before diagnosis, though -- because I simultaneously got diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. If your blood sugars are out of whack -- and they may not yet be sufficiently out of whack to give the classic diabetes symptoms (rapid weight loss, excessive thirst, etc) -- they can still be elevated enough to make you have recurrent yeast infections, as well as bacterial infections elsewhere in your body.

tl/dr: autoimmune thyroid disease (like Hashimoto's, which is the most common reason to take synthroid) is frequently associated with other autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to recurrent yeast infections. Have you had your fasting blood sugar checked?
posted by kestrel251 at 1:31 PM on May 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Are you 100% sure this is a yeast infection? I thought I was getting recurrent yeast infections, and gyns kept saying "well, we've not found it on the swabs but it looks like a yeast infection, here's some treatment." Eventually somebody looked at my whole file and decided it wasn't a yeast infection, I was just allergic to something. She gave me a steroid cream and that helped a whole bunch.
posted by teraspawn at 1:32 PM on May 23, 2011

What kestrel251 said, make sure you have been tested for diabetes type I or II. Also, after I had been on massive quantities of antibiotics and had extreme yeast infections my doctor gave me a week long course of Diflucan followed by three days off, then another week of it, that finally got rid of the infection.
posted by SuzySmith at 2:15 PM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've used acidophilus capsules as suppositories with success. Less messy than yogurt!

Stop drinking chlorinated tap water.

Sleep naked! Let it breathe down there. Wear skirts and no underwear whenever you can.

But, yeah, this says you need to focus more on your overall health. And partners should be healthy also or you will just keep getting re-infected.
posted by cda at 6:45 PM on May 23, 2011

Have you boiled or ironed (the crotch of) your panties? The yeast can still be present in your underwear, even after you launder them--just running them through the washing machine won't necessarily kill the yeast off.

The only other thing that's helped me was to switch to using a pH balancing feminine wash, specifically, Lactacyd. Also, are you shaving down there? That is going to make you more susceptible to yeast infections.
posted by Polychrome at 4:42 AM on May 24, 2011

Not sure if you have given this a try yet, but why not use any of the OTC azole antifungals? Miconazole, tioconazole, or clotrimazole. I recommend monistat.
posted by candasartan at 9:25 AM on May 24, 2011

I have a couple more ideas for you, in case it's irritation causing your problem. Do you use an unscented laundry detergent, and avoid using fabric softener?

I had irritaion problems for years, and the problem turned out to be from a couple of causes. One, my soap was causing problems. when I started using real soap instead of detergent, especially with SLS. Second, my tampons were causing irritation. It actually wasn't the tampons themselves, but the string, which caused itching and irritation. Once I switched to something organic (the strings are cotton), the problem greatly improved.
posted by annsunny at 2:50 PM on May 24, 2011

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