What's the timeline of a conventionally treated yeast infection?
August 16, 2014 8:56 AM   Subscribe

I have a yeast infection. I've been treating it since wednesday afternoon. I'm trying to figure out how long I can expect symptoms to last and when I should be concerned that maybe something else is happening. Bear with me for the probably stupid question that I'm having to ask at the ripe age of 41, as I can't seem to find this answer via google and there are some... complicating factors.

Happy Saturday morning icky gynecological chat, guys.

I've had yeast infections in the past, but probably not for a decade or more, so my memory and experience isn't very reliable. Feel free to skip down to specific questions if I'm overthinking details.

I have a long-term, long distance boyfriend who I see roughly every 4-6 weeks. When we see each other the sex is... enthusiastic. Last time he was here was last weekend and we didn't use a condom for the first time. He left Sunday, I started feeling raw and burny on Monday or Tuesday. Wednesday morning the burning was worse, and I noticed a thick, white, chunky discharge - no discernible smell. I peeked inside, and the inside of my vagina was coated with a thick white film. A little panicked googling later, and it appears to be a pretty clear cut case of yeast.

Wednesday afternoon I did the monistat 1-day (the goo, not the ovule), then in a panic (after reading more internet reviews, natch), went back to store and got the 3 day monistat (yes I know that maybe I should have gone directly to the doctor. whoops).

I'm not feeling the relief that I feel like I should be. Yesterday I did another little peek inside, and the white discharge is thinner and no longer... adhesive, but the skin inside my labia and vaginal opening is red and raw - much like pictures of yeast infection on babies' skin that you find if you google (I have been googling way too many pictures; curse you internet).

I took a bath in baking soda water, and afterward the red angry blotches had faded to angry pink with less defined edges. My symptoms have been getting "better", but still very uncomfortable and inconsistent. I woke up yesterday morning feeling almost normal, but also noticed my discharge was tinged pink! I did the last application last night, and woke up at 3am with the WORST itching and burning, almost as bad as it was in the beginning!


Question 1: What's the lifecycle or timeline of symptoms for a yeast infection? Everything I read says "all better in a week", but what does that mean? Is it normal to still be feeling itching and burning? Is the raw skin at 48 hours post treatment initiation normal?

Question 2: At what point do I know this isn't working and go to the doctor? I read that having treated it myself it will throw off the diagnostic process, true?

Complicating factors:

* I've had weird vaginitis in the past, after (protected) intercourse with this same partner. No STDs, no yeast, no BV, no Trich. Everything is "normal". The last time it happened my doctor said I was positive for group b strep and treated that with intravaginal clindamycin. This current infection is not the same thing - the symptoms of that were totally different. If I thought I was dealing with that again I would have called the doctor first thing.

* I have a... sensitive cervix I guess for lack of a better term. I bleed with intercourse every time; no pain. Again, my gyno says everything looks normal. I do have an IUD; this bleeding started after it was inserted. Related?

* I am leaving for a 10 day trip out of the country with my boyfriend in exactly one week. I can't right now bear the thought of sex, and I am terrified of being out of the country and having this happen again. The longest we've spent together is 4 days. I'm kinda freaking out about the possibility of getting some kind of infection during the trip. I am a good monitor of my mental health and anxiety and I recognize that this is... almost bordering on irrational. :/

Question 3: How can I best protect myself to ensure this - any kind of irritation/infection - won't happen during the trip? How will I know if I'm 100% healed up before I leave? We've already talked about keeping things lowkey and going back to condoms.

Question grab-bag:Thoughts? Experiences? Am I freaking out about nothing? Should I wait it out, make a doctor appointment on monday, or go to a walk-in place sooner? Am I overthinking this? I'm not really interested in yogurt/garlic suppositories as I really don't want to use anything that will hide symptoms so I can keep a better eye on things. I'm already going pantsless, keeping things dry.

Damn this is a lot of words about a regular common occurrence and I feel silly for my hyper vigilance, and I ALSO know that this is how my anxiety manifests. Argh, I'm sorry; I'm a little sensitive when it comes to my vagina. :(
posted by lilnublet to Health & Fitness (21 answers total)
Go to a walk-in place and get this figured ASAP -- you don't want to deal with this on your vacation!
posted by bluedaisy at 9:11 AM on August 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Last time he was here was last weekend and we didn't use a condom for the first time.

It is possible that this is an allergic reaction to his semen.
posted by elizardbits at 9:12 AM on August 16, 2014

But hey, the treatment is to have a lot more barrier-free sex, so there's that at least.
posted by elizardbits at 9:13 AM on August 16, 2014

I would definitely go to the doctor. And ask about the possibility of your partner passing a yeast infection to you. I went through a time like this with an ex, and it was frustrating, but eventually did clear up after several rounds of treatment.

It's also not clear what meds you used. Diflucan (Fluconazole), the one-time oral pill, seems to be the weapon of choice nowadays.

That was also when I really got serious about eating yogurt every day. No putting it or anything else in the vajayjay. Just eating a small serving every day.

But yes, the symptoms can linger a bit -- however, get it checked out, and ask them what you can take with you when you go on your trip. You may want to ask your partner to go to his doctor and verify if he also has a yeast (or other) infection.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 9:28 AM on August 16, 2014

So just my personal experience, no special expertise here: This sounds pretty typical for a yeast infection to be. I'm sure your googling has turned up a lot of people saying that Monistat can take multiple applications, be irritating and sometime doesn't even clear up the infection. Go (today if you can or Monday) and get tested for yeast, BV, etc. At that appointment, ask for Diflucan. They may call it in immediatly or wait until your test results get back. Either way, that stuff works! It keeps working for a week but the symptoms are usually gone in a day or two.
posted by entropyiswinning at 9:42 AM on August 16, 2014

Call your doctor's office and ask for a double dose (two pills) of diflucan (flucanazole). The first one to flush it all out and the second to take while you are on your trip. Any time that anything is inserted inside of you, your ph can get thrown off. I find that taking probiotics helps, as well as avoiding alcohol, eating healthy, and reducing stress (hard to do without the alcohol, right?). It also helps me to be in a committed relationship with a partner who can come inside me at least 3 times a week if not more. His stuff mixed with my stuff keeps my ph where it needs to be.
posted by myselfasme at 9:50 AM on August 16, 2014

This sounds quite typical for yeast to me, but of course there are other possibilities. Yes, go to the doctor. Yeast can be notoriously difficult to treat, and also people notoriously try to treat themselves for yeast when it turns out they don't actually have yeast (the package info on the Monistat makes reference to this phenomenon).

You can go to a walk in clinic right away if it's bothering you a lot, or you can wait until Monday to see the doctor if you feel you can tolerate the symptoms until then. It always makes me a little bit sad when I see patients who say they didn't treat their pain because they wanted to monitor their symptoms more closely - if you didn't treat the underlying cause, the symptoms will come right back, you know.... so be nice to yourself!
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:15 AM on August 16, 2014

When I was younger my first birth control I tried gave me chronic yeast infections so I've had about 7.

A week was a short timeline and when it just started to feel okay. Also my experience was the Monistat 1 day was convenient (only one treatment, less icky stuff) but it left more symptoms. The 7 day(although grosser due to the suppository discharge for all 7 days) relived more symptoms since you're treating it everyday.

Visit a walk in and they can do a quick test. But this unfortunately sounds totally normal.
posted by Crystalinne at 10:22 AM on August 16, 2014

This sounds pretty typical of my experience too, but by all means seek a professional opinion if you're very concerned. I don't know if it would necessarily get you sorted faster - I've had doctors who have told me to go with the 7 day OTC treatments for more comprehensive treatment, and others who have preferred Diflucan for faster relief - but I seem to recall it taking about 5 days for all the symptoms to be gone.
posted by sm1tten at 10:24 AM on August 16, 2014

Response by poster: Ok, thank you - this is what I'm looking for. I'll call the doctor on monday - for an appointment if I'm not feeling way better, and at least to ask about diflucan and my trip.

Although I'm obsessing about symptoms I really am much more comfortable than I was on wednesday, and just hearing that this is normal is super helpful. I know I have a tendency to tumble into obsessive thought patterns (check my askme history), so sometimes it's hard to know when I'm being reasonable or not :/
posted by lilnublet at 10:27 AM on August 16, 2014

I am essentially allergic to Monistat - it *burns* and I personally view it as awful evil stuff. Go to the doctor of course, but absolutely try Diflucan. The pill usually comes with a small tube of cream to treat the topical agony for the day or two it takes the pill to clear the rest up.

Definitely ask for a spare dose to take with you.

I think in the US Diflucan is available over the counter - if you can't get to a doctor, talk to a pharmacist.

Cotton underwear helps, but sleeping or spending some time commando each day really helps.
posted by jrobin276 at 10:28 AM on August 16, 2014

I think Azo makes over the counter test strips now; check Walgreens.

Good luck!!
posted by jrobin276 at 10:30 AM on August 16, 2014

Just in case, it could also be a bacterial overgrowth. Your doc will check that out anyway, I'm sure. If you do have some type of infection, your partner may need treatment too.

I have had an allergic reaction to Monistat, too. THAT was pure misery. The commando recommendation helped a LOT. Skirts/dresses allowed the air flow and decreased any problems with chafing.
posted by annsunny at 10:45 AM on August 16, 2014

You DEFINITELY do not want to repeat the baking soda water. Your vagina naturally keeps things slightly acidic to keep out the bad bacteria and yeast. The baking soda is going to make the environment more basic and thus more habitable for your yeast infection. So don't repeat that one.
posted by schroedinger at 11:07 AM on August 16, 2014

Response by poster: Ok, I just went to the bathroom and wiped and the discharge now has the dreaded "fishy smell" I've read all about but never actually experienced.

Making a walk-in clinic appointment now. This is making me super distressed. :(
posted by lilnublet at 11:15 AM on August 16, 2014

These symptoms are a totally reasonable reason to go to the clinic! Don't feel bad about going to the doctor for this, ok?
posted by bluedaisy at 11:55 AM on August 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also, for some people the Monistat just doesn't work. Boric acid suppositories all the way, esp. for persistent cases (can get at a pharmacy -- google for the how to.)
posted by EtTuHealy at 1:47 PM on August 16, 2014

Some people are sensitive to the 1 and 3 day monistat treatments. They cause more burn and itch than the infection. The kinder gentler very effective 7 day lotrimin cream works much better for some. Is it possible that you are similarly sensitive to the monistat?
posted by SLC Mom at 1:49 PM on August 16, 2014

Response by poster: Just got back from doctor - she said she doesn't see any evidence of yeast or bacteria, and that the burning and inflammation is probably a bad reaction to the medication - doubling up on one day and three day was asking for trouble. She removed a bunch of it and said my body should clear the rest over the next few days. She gave me a diflucan prescription to take with me on my trip just in case, and if I'm still worried to pop back in for a recheck before I leave, but that everything looks fine and to relax.

Lesson learned: call the damned doctor and just get the pill if this happens again.

Oh, and if anyone is interested: she said 100% condoms all the time and make sure they're Without Spermacide because that will make a mess of things as well.
posted by lilnublet at 3:36 PM on August 16, 2014

The 1-day ovule is evil. Terribly irritating. Just wanted to mention, it is normal to have pink discharge after using monistat and the like.
posted by Katine at 8:34 PM on August 16, 2014

Sounds like you got it sorted. Vaginal imbalance also really stresses me out, especially with a pending romantic vacation! Might be worth asking him if everything is normal on his end, men can get skin irritation from yeast down there as well and he may want to use a topical clotrimazole cream.

Just to repeat things that have been mentioned, my doctor told me never to mess with the 1 and 3 day over-the-counter treatments and just use the 7-day clotrimazole cream treatment or the 1-time pill. I didn't know that the shorter treatments more commonly cause irritation, but I was also going to mention that sometimes healing tissue can feel itchy, you just want to keep being gentle and keeping things cleansed.
posted by dahliachewswell at 10:05 PM on August 16, 2014

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