itchy itch itch itch *squrim*
March 2, 2015 8:42 PM   Subscribe

Recurring yeast infections. HELP. Will put the rest inside to spare the front page the gory details.

Ever since taking a course of antibiotics for strep throat in August, I have been plagued by yeast infections. First in September, again in November then January and now, well, now. I treated the first two over the counter, went to the doc in January and got Diflucan which worked, except it's now barely a month later and here I am itching again :( :( :(. When I got the Diflucan they did test for yeast and it was positive, so I'm pretty confident that's what it is. I am planning to go back to the doc again, but it's night time and I am stressing about this, so a twofold question:

1 - realistically, what should I expect from the doctor? I have no idea what there is besides Diflucan, which apparently did not work. Would love to hear from someone else who had recurring infections who managed to clear them. I'm starting to think I'm just going to be itching for the rest of my life..

2 - do I need to throw away all my undies and towels and buy new ones? Am I just re-infecting myself? It's like, $$$ to replace everything but if that's what it takes I'll do it.

Any other insights or anecdotes of miraculous cures are appreciated. Also strategies for prevention. I already shower immediately after exercise, I don't think my pants are unreasonably tight or unbreathable, I wear either clean or no undies to bed, don't douche (but wash around the exterior), etc. I AM kind of stressed out most of the time, which realistically will continue for the rest of this year while I work on a major professional goal. I generally eat healthily, although a bit carb-ier than is fashionable.
posted by annie o to Health & Fitness (35 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I had a "recurring" one that seemed to basically be the same one that appeared to go away for a bit, then come back. The solution for me was not bothering with the one or three OTC day anti fungal creams and instead to do a full seven day course. Diflucan has worked for me, and I certainly prefer it to the creams, but they do seem to work the best.
posted by olinerd at 8:45 PM on March 2, 2015

The only thing that works for me is Luvena gel. It comes in this weird little tube thing and basically you squirt the gel inside your V so that the gel can reset the pH. This works especially well for BV, but it usually stalls and reverses a YI for me too. I basically use it after any experience that could upset the pH of my body (antibiotics, sex, swimming somewhere new, etc). Good luck! Hope you find a solution!!

Also, if you eat a lot of sugar, now would be a good time to cut most of it out. I find that when my diet is high in sugar my ability to fight off a YI goes down to 0.
posted by Hermione Granger at 8:47 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeast is insidious. They will hide in any nook or cranny and come roaring back. I had the yeast infection from hell a few years ago, and what finally worked for me was a full seven day course of meds (like olinerd suggests), combined with vinegar baths. Just fill up the tub partway with water, add some vinegar and sit in it for 15-20 minutes a couple times a day. Yeast prefers alkaline environments, so the slight acidity of the bath will help kill off any holdouts that the medications aren't getting.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 8:52 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yeast infections are an imbalance of the natural flora found in the vagina. It's not a virus you're catching and re-catching, you're just not maintaining a good balance. So yes, longer courses of treatment (sometimes diflucan is given for more than 1 day, or the 7-day creams would count).

Also, consider probiotics, eat more yogurt, and cut down on sugar, which feeds the yeast (ick). If you're really, really carb-heavy in your diet, cut back on those until you've got it under control, then add back in gradually.

If you really can't get rid of the pain and it turns out not to be a yeast infection, do some research on vulvodynia -- it sometimes masquerades as yeast. It's a chronic pain illness, which I hope you don't have. It's exacerbated by stress, though, which is what made me think of it.

Good luck, and sorry you're going through this.
posted by nadise at 8:59 PM on March 2, 2015 [4 favorites]

What are you washing with? Are you using a soap-free cleanser?

I feel I've mentioned QV Wash on the green so many times that people will begin to suspect I'm shilling for them, but it's made a world of difference for me.
posted by Georgina at 9:03 PM on March 2, 2015

1) Did you change any meds or are you on hormonal BC? My first brand of BC gave me chronic yeast infections.

2) Are you swimming or taking baths often? (Especially with soaps/bubble bath?)

3) Are your undies cotton or synthetic? Are your pants cotton or synthetic? Switch to cottons - even workout pants for now. I've also heard no-undies for sleeping recommended.

4) Sexual activity/periods - do these correlate to the infections? If so, try no sex/insertion for a while, plus no tampons until they clear up. Also - no lubes, especially anything not water-soluable. (That's dissolved by water, not just water-based.)
posted by Crystalinne at 9:04 PM on March 2, 2015

Years ago, at a woman's clinic, I was told to try boric acid in capsules as a vaginal supository. I recently tried it again and it seemed to work again. You can Google for instructions with dosage and for how long to continue treatment. As always, I am not your or a doctor. I think I found instructions on WebMD.
posted by BoscosMom at 9:09 PM on March 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

Cut out all sugars and carbs. Stop drinking alcohol. Always wear fresh, clean cotton underpants - do NOT go commando. Not wearing underwear will only make the problem worse. Drink a lot of water. Nystatin cream is your friend. Talk to a gyno who has experience with a longer-term course of diflucan. It can damage your liver, I think, if taken too much dosage at a time and too frequently, but adequately spacing out the doses (maybe 2 doses with a few days/week in between) gives your liver time to metabolize the antibiotic without overwhelming the liver (this is why you'd really want to seek out someone who knows what they're doing pharmeceutically - I am not a doctor). But above all stop consuming sugar and carbs.
posted by MeFiMouse at 9:12 PM on March 2, 2015

Just to add to my previous post, you can't or shouldn't cut out all carbs, but cut out excess sugars and refined carbs, and all sugary beverages/alcohol. A baked potato occasionally, ok. A cup of "fro-yo" (iced chemical sugar sludge)? No.
posted by MeFiMouse at 9:32 PM on March 2, 2015

I could have written this. I had strep a few months ago, killed it dead with the magic of antibiotics, and was subsequently plagued with yeast infections. I got Diflucan prescribed with the antibiotics so I had it on hand when I needed it, got Diflucan prescribed again over the phone for the second one, used Monistat for the third and fourth, and finally went to the clinic for the fifth. Once the clinician determined it was in fact yeast by taking a quick swab and examining it under the microscope (because it could have potentially been a bacterial infection, or a few other things), I was prescribed terconazole, a cream I had to apply internally every night for 7 days. It was a little messy and annoying (pantyliners were a necessity), but it worked! So there are other medications besides Diflucan, they're just not necessarily as convenient to use, sadly.

My clinician also suggested taking probiotics--the kind that has to be refrigerated and has at least 8 ingredients and as high a cell count as possible.

No need to get rid of undies and towels etc., you're not reinfecting yourself with yeast. However, if it is a bacterial infection, and you use sex toys, you'll want to make sure to be extra-vigilant about cleaning those before and after use.
posted by rhiannonstone at 9:37 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

2nd the boric acid. When I was having problems I got some in pre-filled capsules at a pharmacy.
posted by kbuxton at 9:45 PM on March 2, 2015

Me too w/the boric acid. Such a relief. It's the only thing that ever worked. Not to be taken by mouth! Yes, it is also used as an insecticide. Three or four nights in a row was enough in my case. More info here.
posted by macinchik at 9:55 PM on March 2, 2015

Do you use lube during sex? Try switching to a non-glycerine lube. It may be a tiny bit harder to find, but I decided to try that 15 years ago and have not had a SINGLE yeast infection EVER SINCE.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:59 PM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Plain yogurt (I'd go with organic in this case) blobbed on a tampon and inserted. It sounds weird and can be kind of messy but it was the miracle cure for me several years back when I was in your position and equally miserable. I also used it like you would a topical cream. It can kind of sting if your skin is really irritated but the cold helps, too. Be generous with the amounts. Slather a bunch on and sit around on a towel for a while. I think I did it a couple of times a day.

I only have anecdotal evidence and a sample size of about three women I know but it really works. It's something about the acidophilius resetting the pH and also combating the yeast, I believe. Good luck! Feel better!
posted by Beti at 1:01 AM on March 3, 2015 [6 favorites]

I have found that clotrimazole cream spread on the vulva and squirted into the vagina once daily for 3-7 days works the best for me. I live in the UK and this is available OTC here, not sure about elsewhere. The suppositories and oral tablets never seem to cut it for me.
posted by peanut butter milkshake at 1:21 AM on March 3, 2015

Always wear fresh, clean cotton underpants - do NOT go commando.

Except to bed. You should never wear undies to bed, at least until this is all resolved. (Your question says you sometimes skip the undies, but sometimes don't, which is why I'm pointing this out.) This one change isn't enough to get rid of the yeast infection, obviously, but it can really help. A few years back when I was dealing with something very similar to what you describe, my gyno told me this and it really did make a huge difference.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 3:21 AM on March 3, 2015

If you haven't already, it might be worth getting a blood glucose check. High levels (i.e., insulin resistance or diabetes) can seriously compromise your ability to fight off yeast infections even before you try anything else. Many doctors keep a test kit and can spot check. While this isn't as accurate as a lab test, a high fasting number first thing in the morning would suggest that step is worth considering.
posted by gnomeloaf at 3:33 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Do you have a sexual partner? Men can harbor yeast, usually asymptomatically, and pass it back to you after you've been treated. Sometimes a sympathetic gyn or PCP will write a script for a Diflucan pill for your partner if you suspect this might be happening.
posted by telegraph at 4:11 AM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

Seconding telegraph. I'm a guy, and have had this issue with a few women in my life. Totally NOT asymptomatically, though--I had lots of redness and itchiness, too.
posted by pupsocket at 4:34 AM on March 3, 2015

Call your doctor and ask for a two day course of Diflucan. Begin taking good probiotics right away and stop eating and drinking anything yeasty like wine, beer, and bread. Reduce or cut out sugar. If you are sexually active, your partner needs to be treated. If you drink milk, switch to acidophilus milk. In the future, if you need to take antibiotics, get a prescription for diflucan at the same time.
posted by myselfasme at 4:39 AM on March 3, 2015

I had a recurring yeast infection a few years ago and the over the counter stuff did nothing to help.
Here's what helped: I froze plain yogurt in tube shapes made out of aluminum foil and broze pieces off when needed and inserted them in my vag.
Immediate and lasting relief, though messy, wear a liner if you try this.

The infection kept coming back until I started on acidophilous pearls. Those things were miracle workers for me, and for the following year, anytime I felt even a hint of an itch down there, I took a couple a day for a day or two and no problems since.
posted by newpotato at 4:41 AM on March 3, 2015 [5 favorites]

+1 on Good probiotics. there are several specifically made for female yeast issues. They aren't cheap.

Cut down on excess sugar. Yeast lives on sugar.

Make sure there is no sugar in your soaps.
posted by Neekee at 5:59 AM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

The brand newpotato mentioned actually has a yeast balancing (YB pearls) variety.
posted by Neekee at 7:13 AM on March 3, 2015

Be careful about the "plain yogurt on a tampon" thing because it's really a gamble. I tried it once and it helped. But later did it for another infection and ended up with a case of BV and something called cytolytic vaginosis (which is basically an overgrowth of the "good" bacteria - yes that can happen). I had to do a course of flagyl and take baking soda sitz baths for week because of it.

And the QV wash recommended earlier (along with tons of other feminine washes like Summer's Eve) has glycerin in it, which is fine for some people but will give me a yeast infection in no time so be careful. It's also very common in water-based lubes. For washing I've luck with Sliquid's unscented wash.

Switching to a non-hormonal birth control was probably the most helpful for me. Along with avoiding too much sugar, avoiding glycerin like the plague and eliminating pretty much anything scented/perfumes down there. I even use an unscented laundry detergent for my undies just to be on the safe side.
posted by Kimmalah at 7:53 AM on March 3, 2015

Also came in here to recommend boric acid.
posted by hotelechozulu at 8:01 AM on March 3, 2015

With regard to your underwear, I don't know if it was just superstition or sound science, but my mom would scald (cotton) with hot water and a laundry disinfectant like original lysol or hexol, 10 minute soak, then launder as normal.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 8:20 AM on March 3, 2015

I second acidophilus. Violent yeast infections often result after taking a course of antibiotics. (The antibiotics kill the good with the bad bacteria.) My friends and I have taken this for years when needed and haven't experienced yeast infections in all that time, with no side effects. Bought over the counter in most drug stores and health food stores. It works because it is a concentrated form of the main probiotic in yogurt and acidifies the vaginal and colonic flora to eliminate that nasty yeast. Can be used as a preventative, along with the advice mentioned above, to take when on antibiotics or on a daily basis.
posted by smudgedlens at 9:00 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Do you have a regular sex partner? Have they been treated? Yes even men. I had a reoccurring case because my husband kept reinfecting me. He used the cream for a week problem solved. Also make sure you are washing any sex toys you might use properly after every use.
posted by wwax at 9:01 AM on March 3, 2015

I also had this problem and now take acidophilus capsules every day, despite my doctor's assertion that this would not work. I don't believe I have had any since, although mine have such mild symptoms that I can't really tell... but I usually have a suspicion. Can't hurt to try.
posted by queens86 at 2:32 PM on March 3, 2015

Yeah I don't know how helpful it is, but usually after I've just gotten over an infection I'll wash and dry my underwear on the hottest settings they can manage. I eventually had to get rid of some of the older pairs because I couldn't wear them anymore without getting some yeasty symptoms no matter how thoroughly I washed them.
posted by Kimmalah at 3:33 PM on March 3, 2015

A german ex-gf swore by plain yoghurt up the hooha.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:38 PM on March 3, 2015

I found Candizyme helpful, though the Amazon reviews are mixed. YMMV, I suppose.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 10:03 PM on March 3, 2015

I've had this trouble before and definitely got told by my gyn that the 1 day treatments don't really work and the 3 days are hit or miss, get a 7 day cream and try that. Partners can definitely reinfect you even if they don't have symptoms. I know moms who kept swapping it back and forth with their kids through breastfeeding and cracked nipples. Good luck!
posted by katers890 at 7:49 AM on March 4, 2015

I had similar symptoms (sometimes testing positive for yeast, sometimes not) for a couple of years. The thing that eventually worked for me was to dry my vulva completely with a hairdryer on a cool setting after every shower. Yeast love moisture! Completely solved the problem for me, although YMMV obviously. Good luck!
posted by amerrydance at 8:58 AM on March 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Good advice here. Wanted to add that Prep H wipes are mostly witch hazel, and are a cooling, calming influence to use when your vulva is on fire. Those, vinegar baths, and acidophilus work for me every time. Diflucan and the like are painful for me and don't really help.
posted by agregoli at 9:25 AM on March 6, 2015

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