How to stop reoccuring yeast infections
July 17, 2007 11:45 AM   Subscribe

I've had a yeast infection/yeast infection + bacterial vaginosis one to two weeks before my period for every month since December. I've read all the old AskMe threads and tried the home remedies on this page. I'm about ready to start scheduling a monthly appointment with the doctor to get my dose of antibiotics and buying Gynelotrimin wholesale (I'm allergic to Monistat). Help!

- go commando more often than is probably decent
- often wear skirts in combination with the above
- wipe with hydrogen peroxide when the itching starts
- have tried sticking yogurt, tea tree oil, hydrogen peroxide, acidophilis, and garlic in my cooter (not all at once)
- dry off with paper towels
- wash with Cetaphil
- don't take baths
- maintain a trimmed exterior
- pee/wash after sex
- take acidophilis
- cut down on sugar
- exercise regularly/sleep well
- use cotton underwear (when I wear underwear)

Given that I rarely got yeast infections before I started hormonal birth control, I'm almost positive it's due to the BC. I've tried Ortho TriCyclin Lo and now I'm on NuvaRing, and the yeast infections still come. But for convenience reasons, I would prefer to not abandon hormonal BC for condoms and don't feel ready to invest in an IUD (I'm worried about the spotting side effects).

So--short from that, is there anything, anything else I can try? I got myself waxed once and that seemed to help a little. I'm not a fan of the look, but I'm willing to do it if it produces results--has it helped anyone else?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (27 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

Aren't baths supposed to be helpful in keeping dry? (Not with bubble bath, just plain old warm water.) You could also try drying with your hair dryer on the cool setting after a shower.
posted by Airhen at 11:56 AM on July 17, 2007

You might also try using unscented/baby detergent on any undies and pants you do wear.
posted by brina at 12:01 PM on July 17, 2007

Could you go on one of the extended cycle BC's, like Seasonale? That'd slow down the periods...I'm on Seasonale now and I love it...
posted by BuddhaBelly at 12:06 PM on July 17, 2007

BV and yeast infections are different. If you think you have BV, please see a doctor as it can have various health consequences.

For the yeast, ask for an Rx for the Diflucan once a month pill, it has worked for me personally like a charm, and my doctor friends all recommend it all the time.

Either way, please see a doc for diagnosis, and please stop sticking garlic and yogurt in your cooter.
posted by tristeza at 12:25 PM on July 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

This sounds miserable. Have you talked to your doctor about fluconazole (Diflucan)? It's a yeast infection medication that you take orally, just one pill. If it's appropriate, maybe your doctor would prescribe a few months' worth that you could take preemptively, or at the first sign of an infection.

I am confused by your mention of antibiotics and am thinking it must be a typo -- you sound really well informed, so you probably know that antibiotics can bring about, but won't cure, a yeast infection.
posted by Siobhan at 12:26 PM on July 17, 2007

FYI, I went off BC and got my copper IUD and while it's decreased, it's not disappeared. The only suggestion I got was that after any, er, irritating activity, I use one of the seven doses in a seven day pack of whichever -azole drug is around. Helps immensely.

A monthly dose of abx can't be helping the matter - but I have no experience with bacterial infections. Still, I'd think if that could be permanently cleared up, that would help the other matter.

There are two more things you can try for yeast: one is boric acid, in capsules, which you'll likely have to make up yourself, and the other is gentian violet, which is impossible to find and might permanently discolor your bits if they're seriously irritated. I never quite got desperate enough to use either, although I do still have a bottle of boric acid in case that day comes.
posted by cobaltnine at 12:32 PM on July 17, 2007

You have cut down on sugar - but how about cutting it out completely? Yeast infections feed off that stuff.
posted by Sassyfras at 12:33 PM on July 17, 2007

I've gone through phases like this from time to time for years. For a couple of months I'll just get a yeast infection before my period like clockwork.

It wasn't clear above if you've actually been to the doctor, but if not, it's a good idea to go. If you've got some kind of underlying bacterial problem, all the yeast treatments in the world won't work.

Other than that, I'll nth Diflucan. It has saved my sanity of more than on occasion. The preventative blow drying after every bath, shower, or incidence of sweating helped more than I expected. I've also found that when I started using my birth control pills to skip periods to help with my endometriosis, it sort of stopped the cycle cold (almost as though it gave my body a chance to rebalance itself).
posted by mostlymartha at 12:34 PM on July 17, 2007

follow-up from the OP:

I don't use the prescribed antibiotics to treat the yeast, I use it to treat the BV I often get in combination with the yeast. Two at once! Fun! I go on a round of antibiotics and in the last few days (or after I'm done with the antibiotics) start the yeast infection treatment.

Thank you for all the suggestions so far!
posted by jessamyn at 12:38 PM on July 17, 2007

I've had similar problems in the past and just did two doses of diflucan last month and it totally worked. You might also consider finding out whether your partner is reintroducing the yeast. Dunno if it's a girl or a boy partner but even if boys don't have symptoms (they rarely do) they can still be carriers of the bad yeasts. So even if you're clearing it up every month, he could be unknowingly bringing it back to you.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 12:40 PM on July 17, 2007

Boy do I hear you on this one. I've had issues with this for years, although I don't get fully developed YIs every month. But I can feel them lurking. Some steps I took:

1) I managed to convince my doc to prescribe me a 30 day supply of diflucan (refillable 3 times), which means I now have a stash of them that I take when I think they are necessary, which is 3-4 times a year.

2) I also find it really helpful to do this when I feel one coming on: several drops of tea tree oil on a mini-pad that has been moistened with a tiny bit of water, worn throughout the day or night. Like you, I had previously tried tea tree (and garlic, etc) internally, and they did nothing. This has worked for me.

3) I also have a couple of bottles of pharmaceutical grade boric acid powder which I put into veggie capsules and use internally to treat yeasties when they bloom into full blown infections (2 a day, for 7-10 days). I discussed this treatment with my nurse practitioner, who endorsed it after doing some research. This worked for me when OTC creams only made things more miserable and uncomfortable, and did nothing to kill the yeasties. I rarely do a course of BA anymore, but it was really a lifesaver, and I'm glad I have a stash of it, since it can be a bit difficult to find (I bought mine from some online pharmacy/drugstore).

Oddly enough, I started getting mine when I got my tubes tied and went off birth control for good. Aren't bodies funny things.
posted by MsElaineous at 12:55 PM on July 17, 2007 [4 favorites]

Boy, can I relate; I went through this same awful cycle for quite awhile. The only thing that worked for me permanently was (sorry) abandoning hormonal birth control entirely. Since you don't want to go that route, though, perhaps consider going beyond just cutting down on sugar and trying a full yeast-cleanse diet. Olive leaf supplements are also supposed to be helpful for some cases.
posted by scody at 1:08 PM on July 17, 2007

Is a doctor managing your recurrent yeast infection? Recurrent yeast infection can be a sign of serious illness, so you should get a doctor involved if it takes more than a couple of attempts to clear.
posted by caitlinb at 1:24 PM on July 17, 2007

The BV + yeast combo is not unusual, and BV can bring on yeast...and the antibiotics to cure the BV are generally pretty hardcore. I empathize. Definitely ask your doctor about the diflucan.

The BV could be sexually transmitted, and is more serious than the yeast (though generally less torturous). Ask your doctor whether s/he thinks your partner could be giving it back to you, and what you should do about it. Maybe he can be treated with antibiotics as well.

I kind of believe that there are some people whose bodies just don't play well together on a bacterial level. I dated a guy--he was clean, I was clean--and yet I got BV on two different occasions.

(As far as the waxing goes, I used to do it, and it did seem to make me feel less sweaty and yeasty, but that's purely anecdotal.)
posted by veronica sawyer at 1:28 PM on July 17, 2007

I had the same combo problem for a while (it was super bad with the nuva ring). After the Dr. took a culture, I found out the type of yeast I kept cultivating was resistant to over the counter treatments and diflucan, so a different anti-fungal was necessary. I switched to a different pill and the problem was greatly reduced (no more YI but a very mild case of BV lingering, which provided you've had a culture done and it's not trich you can live with it and only treat it when it flares, my nurse practitioner recommended douching with a diluted solution of betadine but skip this if you are nursing or pregnant) Good luck
posted by estronaut at 1:47 PM on July 17, 2007

I had this exact problem - yeast infections every month before my period while I was on Ortho TriCyclin. It got so bad I had to stop taking it. Now I'm on Cryselle and I haven't had any problems whatsoever in that area. Definitely try switching your pill.
posted by tatiana wishbone at 2:03 PM on July 17, 2007

You mention having sex. Is it possible that your partner has one or both of these and is not getting treated?
posted by dpx.mfx at 2:06 PM on July 17, 2007

I had recurring yeast infections, over the course of six months, every month, no matter what. I completely avoided antibiotics & birth control, I consumed more yogurt than I thought was humanly possible, I took Diflucan six weeks in a row, I made all of my sexy underthings forbidden, I douched, and I even ended up using Lidocaine (prescribed by my doctor) to stop the irritation, ad nauseam. It still wouldn't go away, and I ended up (on Dr.'s orders) taking Diflucan every day for two weeks. It's gone and I am that much happier for it, of course.
posted by mitzyjalapeno at 2:22 PM on July 17, 2007

To second Veronica sawyer, I once was listening to Dr. Dean Addell (?) on the radio and he said that you can sometimes even be reinfected by a partner through oral sex, besides obviously regular sex.
posted by whoaali at 3:28 PM on July 17, 2007

Echoing what others are saying about having your partner get checked out.

You may not want to hear this, but when I had your exact same problem, I tried everything I could think of to clear up the chronic yeasties, (most of the things on your list, and a few others) and the one thing that finally worked was walking out on the cheating bastard. That was eight years ago, and I haven't had a single yeast infection since. I hope this isn't your case, but I'm just sayin'.
posted by ambrosia at 3:57 PM on July 17, 2007

Even if your partner is not cheating on you, he/she may still unknowingly have one of those things, especially if you have them, and he/she could be continuously giving it back to you.
posted by Packy_1962 at 6:19 PM on July 17, 2007

I had this at one time (not on bc) and it eventually went away. It had to do with hormones, I'm sure-I also dealt with this throughout my pregnancies.

Do you eat a lot of soy, maybe?

Mine left after I lost weight and started exercising. I surmise the extra fat was pumping out more hormones or something.
posted by konolia at 6:48 PM on July 17, 2007

For me it was a simple switch of birth control, I'd been on various generic forms of Triphasil for years. When the clinic switched contracts and I was put on Ortho 777 for a while, on came the yeast infections. Went back to the Triphasil and presto! no more infections.

I'm not recommending Triphasil specifically, I'm just saying keep trying different prescriptions. I've had some friends that have had to try half a dozen different ones before finding one without annoying side effects.
posted by 100watts at 8:01 AM on July 18, 2007

I was on the BV/yeast seesaw for months. I'd treat one and end up with a nastier, stronger version of the other. Then I started taking airborne every three hours for a bad cold. The cold didn't go away, but the infections did- and quickly. Maybe it was a coincidence, maybe it was a citric acid/sodium bicarbonate PH balancing act, I don't know. But from now on, I'll be trying airborne before any creams/gels/pills.
posted by IWoudDie4U at 8:58 AM on July 18, 2007

Nthing the get your partner tested for yeast and BV, and switch hormoes! I'd do these two things first off, before trying anything else, since so many remedies aren't working for you. There are lots of different kinds of pills so talk to your doctor about what would be a very different hormone balance than the ones you've tried. I've heard that the NuvaRing is much more likely to cause yeast/BV than pills.

You want to be careful about taking Diflucan too often--it is a very powerful drug and can affect your liver.

I would guess the antibiotics to treat the BV are what is triggering the yeast, which is really a tough situation to be in. Do you take acidophilis along with the antibiotics, or only afterwards? Maybe try uping the dose of acidophilis, or see if there is a different antibiotic you can take?

Couple other suggestions, from someone who's been in a similar situation: cut out all sources of sugar and simple carbs, including bread, rice, pasta, sugar, beer, fruit, etc, for a couple of months...this is totally sucky but it is what worked for me; don't use lube that has gylcerin or non-9 in it; try washing your underwear in hot water, dry on high heat, use hypoallergenic detergent, and iron them afterwards--it can be difficult to kill yeast with just regular laundry practices; don't use any soap at all when you wash your crotch, and try to avoid getting too much soap there when you wash your body; if you're using condoms try non-latex ones and make sure they don't have non-9 as lube; exercise regularly.

Good luck. You are in such a lousy situation, I'm so sorry!
posted by min at 10:58 AM on July 18, 2007

Could you go on one of the extended cycle BC's, like Seasonale? That'd slow down the periods...I'm on Seasonale now and I love it...

Do it.

P.S. whoaali, it's Dr. Dean Edel.
posted by radioamy at 11:22 AM on July 18, 2007

Chiming back in to second min's suggestion re: the lube -- if you use it, make sure you are not using one with glycerin. The ones in drugstores seem to be invariably glycerin-based, but it's easy to find a good non-glycerin lube (such as Liquid Silk) at places like Babeland or Good Vibrations. (Speaking of which, if you use toys, make sure you're cleaning and disinfecting them properly, too!)
posted by scody at 11:23 PM on July 20, 2007

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