How to deal with a yeast infection when I can't see a doc right away?
September 19, 2011 4:28 PM   Subscribe

I think I have a yeast infection but I'm having a hard time getting a doctor's appointment anytime soon. Advice for what to do in the meantime is appreciated!

I've been having some discomfort which, upon much googling, seems very likely to be a YI (itchy, ouchy, peeling skin, discharge, etc) and the conditions seem right for it (I've been taking antibiotics recently, well currently, for a different illness.) I've never had a yeast infection before so it didn't occur to me right away, but now I'm fairly certain that's what's going on.

Anyway, due to frequently-changing insurance I don't have a regular primary care physician or gynecologist. So far I've been having pretty bad results calling the gynies listed through my insurance- the best I've been able to get so far is an appointment for a week from Thursday! I called Planned Parenthood too, thinking they'd be able to help me out but apparently they are booked through October. Shit!

So, I was going to just go get an OTC remedy from the drugstore and hope that helps until I have my doctor's appointment. But after perusing several threads on here regarding the topic, there seem to be mixed opinions on the OTCs and I'm not sure what to do.

So my questions are basically:
-What OTC medication has worked best for you/ would you recommend/ not recommend?
-Or, is this the type of thing I can get taken care of through a "Minute Clinic" type place (as in, they will prescribe me diflucan or whatever it is without an exam?) If so, where specifically might I be able to do this (In chicago?)
-Is the antibiotic going to make it worse? (I've been taking it for an upper-respiratory type infection but it doesn't seem to be working anyway, I'm guessing it's viral, so it seems kind of pointless to keep taking it if it's causing other problems for me.)
-Is waiting week+ to see a doc about this a big deal? It seems annoying for sure but I don't know what else I can do.
-I've seen some posts about putting yogurt in various places and while I appreciate the intent it kind of skeeves me out and I probably won't be doing that.
-Any other advice to get me through it appreciated.

(also, in case you were wondering, although I think it's YI, I have been fairly sexually active recently and have taken that into account- I'm due for STD screenings anyway so I will address that at my doctor's appointment. Just in case it's not what I think it is. But I'm pretty sure it is.)

Please feel free to email me at !
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (32 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Try the OTC stuff. It can definitely work. One doctor specifically said to use the cream rather than the suppository stuff since you get better "coverage." Also, get the stuff that you take for more days (rather than the one-day treatment). I find that I need to use it for a couple of days to really beat back the bad guys.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 4:33 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

It is not terrible to wait a week or so, but certainly annoying. I would recommend taking whatever OTC treatment that is most affordable, in addition to cutting out all fermented drinks such as wine and beer, taking not scorching hot showers, wearing cotton panties, and taking a break from the bedroom activities. I also keep a bottle of cranberry supplements, but I have no idea if these actually work. Feel better
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 4:34 PM on September 19, 2011

OTC has worked for me. I have gotten the 1 day, and it has worked (though it did itch for a few hours), as well as the three day. Good luck!
posted by too bad you're not me at 4:40 PM on September 19, 2011

Go to your pharmacy, where you can get free advice from a trained pharmacist on this. Just tell the person at the pharmacy counter that you would like to ask the pharmacist a question. You may want to look for one with a female pharmacist (I know I would). I would probably trust this over advice from generalist web sites like MetaFilter.
posted by grouse at 4:41 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

The OTC stuff works, though it's annoying (wear a pantiliner the next day). You have to couple it with cutting out sugar, yeast (bread), and as much fermented food as you can. I also tend to eat more yogurt than I do usually. Good luck!
posted by chowflap at 4:44 PM on September 19, 2011

OTC meds have worked just fine for me. I prefer the suppository-style meds due to ease of use. Apply them at night, before going to bed, because they leak out if you are sitting or upright - although you will still need to use a pantyliner the next day, the leakage won't be as bad by then. And agreed with making sure it comes with external anti-itch cream.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 4:48 PM on September 19, 2011

Minute clinics will do an on the spot urine test and prescribe antibiotics for UTIs.
posted by deludingmyself at 4:50 PM on September 19, 2011

Aaaaand, you're talking about yeast and not bacteria. Nevermind.
posted by deludingmyself at 4:52 PM on September 19, 2011

I have had doctors who will prescribe Diflucan over the phone based on the "I'm on antibiotics, and now I'm itchy" thing. In fact, I have (and you may want to do this in the future) asked doctors to prescribe me Diflucan when they prescribe me antibiotics.

They have all said that the Diflucan won't really help until the antibiotic course is over, but you should check on that with a doctor/pharmacist, of course.

At any rate, even if you can't see your doctor, if they have an advice line or similar, they may be able to get you a prescription.
posted by freezer cake at 4:59 PM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

You should be able to get Diflucan over the counter (CanesOral). If you get the combi-pack, you will get the pill and cream for external itching.
posted by Felicity Rilke at 5:05 PM on September 19, 2011

Yogurt squicks you out, but how about a peeled garlic clove? Stick that baby where the itching is. It will come out on its own in a couple days or you can grab it. I never need a garlic clove for more than a couple days. The only thing to be aware of is that you will taste garlic.
posted by freshwater at 5:20 PM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

Who prescribed the antibiotics? Call them and see if you can get them to call in a script for diflucan.
posted by pecanpies at 5:21 PM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Even though it squicks you...I can't recommend the yogurt highly enough. A year or so ago, I had a recurrent yeast infection that was not affected by the OTC items.
After googling, I bought some plain yogurt, made some channels out of a couple of layers of aluminum foil, froze the yogurt in them, and broke off inch long pieces and inserted them.
Instant relief, yeast infection gone within a day or two(this was coupled with taking acidophilous pearls, which i also highly recommend, esp. if you're taking antibiotics).
Whenever I get even a hint of itch down there, an acidophilous pearl and a chunk of the yogurt makes it disappear almost instantly.
posted by newpotato at 5:24 PM on September 19, 2011 [6 favorites]

Whenever I feel even the slightest tinge of a yeast infection, I buy two cases of probiotics from the refrigerated case at Whole Foods (they look like small bottles of drinkable yogurt), drink one at the store, and rush the rest home to immediate refrigeration. I drink at least one every day following that, sometimes two if I'm feeling impatient.

They are quite expensive, but for me they are worth every penny.
posted by invisible ink at 5:29 PM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Definitely get the OTC and find acidophilous. If you have a whole foods or health-food store, get acidophilous from the fridge section. It'll help a plethora of antibiotic woes. Expensive, but worth it.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 5:31 PM on September 19, 2011

Acidophillus for the win! A few taken orally every day solve this problem for me every time. Also Prep-H wipes soothe - they are mostly witchhazel, which is an old remedy.
posted by agregoli at 5:40 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm another person who has successfully used yogurt. I'm not sure why using a nice, cool creamy substance that is healthy enough to ingest orally would skeeve you out more than using an artificially manufactured cream filled with chemicals. I'm not saying OTC doesn't work, but for me personally they never worked faster or better than yogurt, plus they were more expensive and less soothing. Why not try the yogurt first? It will cost you less than a buck if you can find unflavored in a small container.

Then if you do that, you can also use it as a face mask-- it really makes your skin glow.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:31 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm a female pharmacist!

I'd say exactly what kanata's pharmacist said:

...they recommended one of the week long OTC meds for this in suppository style...7 day doses were better than the new 1 or 3 day ones ...apply at night and wear cotton underwear.

If it's a yeast infection - and it probably is - you'll likely notice that your symptoms improve after the first day or 2 of use. Do all 7 days, though, to really clear it up.
posted by selfmedicating at 6:41 PM on September 19, 2011

I'm a doctor and I use the over the counter generic stuff myself when needed (either the 3 or 7 day because the 1 day burns me as well). Yes, Diflucan is less messy, but it's not always effective either.

That being said, I've got nothing against the yogurt idea and hope to try it someday.

I will give you the standard medical line that women who have never had a yeast infection before are not always accurate in self diagnosing, so really it's important to check in with a doc if it's your first time having one. Given your situation though, it certainly seems reasonable to try OTC/home treatment while you're waiting for the appointment.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:42 PM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

seconding the garlic clove. It's a little weird, but it works.
posted by shrimpsmalls at 7:12 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have posted this link several times, and it makes me sad that there's such a need for it, but anyway, enough of the philosophizing about the state of the world:

There is a nonprofit called Needymeds whose mission is to direct people to low- or no-cost sources of medication and health care. The site has a searchable database of free/low-cost/sliding-scale clinics nationwide, and the database includes info on each clinic's hours, location, cost, and services.
posted by virago at 7:26 PM on September 19, 2011

My dad's a gynecologist, which imbues me with no special knowledge other than the fact that he always prescribed an OTC cream as a first resort when treating a yeast infection anyway.

Try the cream, and if it doesn't work, then call your doctor.
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:37 PM on September 19, 2011

Oh, and your antibiotic is almost certainly the culprit, but don't stop taking it.
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:39 PM on September 19, 2011

Just wanted to put this out there for either the OP or anyone reading this in the future and thinking about using the yogurt treatment..... read your ingredients label!!!! Make sure it does not contain ANY kind of sugar, because this will feed the yeast.

"Plain" does not always mean "no sugar". I learned this the hard way.
posted by sherber at 8:04 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I doubt you'll try the garlic clove, but if you do definitely put a string or thread through it so you can get it out easily. I tried that remedy once when I was overseas and couldn't get to a doctor and, well, it got stuck. I got it out eventually, but that was not a pleasant afternoon.
posted by apricot at 8:43 PM on September 19, 2011

Garlic didn't work for me. Yogurt did. Garlic was also way more unpleasant, and I like eating garlic. I'd go with yogurt that just has acidophilus.
posted by salvia at 10:34 PM on September 19, 2011

Not advice on treating your yeast infection, but in the past, when I've needed to see an MD promptly, I've used Zocdoc. You put in your insurance information and what kind of MD you want to see and it gives you a list and availability - I was able to find someone same/next day. The disadvantage is that you have no idea if the MD is any good because you have to trust the online reviews which seem incredibly subjective and some are obviously written by someone from the MDs office.

The site only does a few major cities, but I figure it is worth posting because I got really annoyed after spending an afternoon calling various MDs offices only to find that they weren't taking new patients or had availability only in three months.
posted by sciencegeek at 3:59 AM on September 20, 2011

Having had quite a few of these myself, I'd say use the 7-day Monistat, and if that doesn't work have your doc get you Diflucan. You won't make anything worse by waiting, it's just uncomfortable. Usually docs want to see you if it's your first YI but if you get them in the future they will give you the rx just by calling.

A couple tips about getting in faster with doctors:
- Unless you're planning on having kids soon, look for a gyno who doesn't do OB. Their schedules are less crazy and you won't have to deal with your appointment being cancelled due to an unexpected delivery.
- Be really nice to the person on the phone, but lay it on thick. Tell them you're reallllyyyy uncomfortable and need to come in *now.* Doctors offices always have extra appointments for emergencies, you just need to convince them that you deserve it.
- See if any doctors have nurse practitioners - they're great for this sort of thing. Last time I was really sick I was able to see the NP at my internist's office immediately.
posted by radioamy at 7:55 AM on September 20, 2011

The doctor doesn't need to be a gyno. Any family doctor can treat this. If the doc who gave you the antibiotics is a general practitioner I'd call them and ask fora quick appt. If he's an ENTor specialist that would probably not work. But all the other docs on your plan are fair game.
posted by CathyG at 10:05 AM on September 20, 2011

OTC cream for 7 days. Eating yoghurt really will help. Garlic can burn sensitive places on some people, so be aware if you decide to use that "remedy". Cutting out/down sugar & white carbs will speed recovery. Wear cotton underwear. Don't use glycerin-containing soaps on your privates. Cool water baths/washcloth compress will abate some of the discomfort.
posted by batmonkey at 11:44 AM on September 20, 2011

Nthing all of the following (as a lady who has had way to many of these)
-Acidophillus, but make sure it is the refrigerated kind!
-Cotton underwear, and no underwear when you can (at home, etc.)
-OTC 7-day cream. The 1-day creams can really burn sometimes. Multiple gynos have stressed the importance of the 7-day to me. I find talking to pharmacists at the big chains like RiteAid not helpful, but if you can stop by a smaller pharmacy you may just get more time and understanding.
-Yogurt. Eat it, you don't need to put it anywhere else. Plain unsweetened if possible.

And the garlic doesn't really work for me unless it's the very first sign of an itch, sounds like you may be too late for this.
posted by manicure12 at 8:09 PM on September 20, 2011

My local pharmacies all have yeast infection test kits next to the OTC treatments. I've never tried one, but you might want to if you end up not waiting for the doctor's visit.
posted by anotherkate at 3:53 AM on September 22, 2011

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