Archived Q&A and Reviews
Help! Since last July I have had a problem with itchy crotch. Under the direction of my ob/gyn, Hank Streitfelt, I have been treated for yeast and for bacterial infection with diflucan and metronidazole; I have changed to hand washing all my undies in Dreft; I have douched with vinegar water regularly; I have used steroid ointment; I've tried abstaining from sex. Culturing turned up nothing. He and my internist say everything looks peachy except for the effects of my scratching the itch, and some extra epithelial and white blood cells. I'm 46, not yet menopausal, and would like to be enjoying sex with my husband if this weren't driving me nuts. Dr. S has tried hard but now given up, and recommends his gynecological oncologist, but I'm wondering if there's an alternative approach. Who can I see who may have a new idea how to treat this? itchy scratchy
I went through this same string of tests, treatments, and trials with my own itchy crotch a number of years ago. After testing negative for everything and having no treatments work, the doctor decided that I was extra sensitive to soaps and lotions etc in the crotch area. She told me not to use any kind of soap or lotion or anything else with scents or chemicals anywhere near my crotch, ever. After this, I learned that my sister had gone through the exact same thing. Since then (nearly 10 years ago) I have been vigilant about this no-soap/chemical regime, and also put baby powder on my crotch after a shower to help with drying out (my sister actually dries her crotch with a hair drier every day). This has worked and the problem has never come back. I'd try this for a month before looking for more doctors. Good luck. -- similar sufferer
Hold on -- this is what you wrote:
''Dr. S has tried hard but now given up, and recommends his gynecological oncologist, but I'm wondering if there's an alternative approach.''
In my experience, doctors do not randomly suggest you see an oncologist. You need to follow up on this recommendation; and then you can try alternative treatments. anon
I'm almost 42 and have suffered through plenty of scratchy phases over the years. Unfortunately, I don't have a recommendation for an alternative GYN, but the one thing that does help is to not eat sugar. I know, not a fun prospect, but that is the one piece of advice that I have found through countless hours of research that seems to actually work. Stop eating any kind of sugar, including so-called natural forms (fruit juice, too much fruit, honey, etc.) and that should help the itch! I also enjoy having sex a lot, but it seems that lots of activity, even absolutely safe, invites infection. Just my experience... no sugar, please!
I had recurring yeast infections for 2+ years. They were driving me batty, and even diflucan didn't help. Acupuncture did, however. After just 2-3 treatments and some herbs, the problem was gone, and it hasn't come back. I saw Melanie Linebaugh and highly recommend her. I've had mixed success with acupuncture for other ailments, but it worked wonders for the yeast infections. Melanie's # is 510-526-3620. JM.
Oh have I been there! I struggled with recurrent (and recurrent, and recurrent) yeast/bacterial infections that cost me so much in diflucan and that pasty over the counter business. I was getting them about every 2-3 weeks, and after going through several NPs begging for something I could do to prevent the infections, my current NP gave me the magical advice that has literally cured me: STOP USING SOAP DOWN THERE. That's right, wash with only water. It might be that infuriatingly simple. Just rinse well, don't use any soap, don't douche, don't scrub or anything. I know it seems counterintuitive (e.g., ''but there are bacteria, so that means it's dirty, right?'') but I swear to you, this stopped the infections and dried my tears of frustration over the annoying- itch-then-gross-treatment cycle and its negative impact on my relationship. Ever since I stopped using soap down there (1.5+ years ago) I haven't had a single infection! (I should note that I also started washing all my clothes in no-phosphate, dye-free detergent, also at the recommendation of my wonderful NP) I don't mean to suggest that everyone can be ''cured'' this way, but it might be worth a shot to try before you spend a bunch of money on a gynecological oncologist. Hope your suffering can be alleviated! No Soap No Itch
Garlic. I have recurring yeast infections, or sometimes just itchiness, and spent a lot of money on messy creams, but in the end, what works for me is a garlic suppository. Just peel the clove of garlic, but make sure you don't cut it or nick it - when I do, I wake up tasting garlic - and insert overnight. Sometimes it will take a few nights, sometimes it clears up with one. The friend who told me about this said she keeps a few cloves in a jar of olive oil in her bathroom. I keep aside any pristine cloves when I'm cooking so I have them when I want them. Hope this helps! Itching is no fun. no more scratching
I gave birth 8 months ago and got the Mirena IUD inserted about 6 months ago. I have had recurring yeast infections and I do not know if it has been since childbirth or the IUD insertion. Does anybody know if this is normal? I keep telling myself that I will make an appointment to see my doctor, but then the infection usually goes away. I plan on making an appt this week but am wondering if anybody has any insight. Thanks! Anon
I don't know if it's ''normal'' to have recurring yeast infections after a C-section or not BUT I have had recurring yeast infections often in my life. You MUST see your doctor. It might feel like the infection goes away on it's own but it was never the case for me. Your doctor will certainly get cultures to identify what is really happening. I personally have had to get medication many times in a row to get ride of it completely. Actually what really broke the cycle was a homeopathic medication but that's a different story ... R
So my wife has had a recurrent yeast infection for about seven years. It's not constant. Sometimes she'll go for many months without any problems; other times it will be a monthly battle. She went six months of her pregnancy without any yeast, though, so that was a victory. She's tried just about everything, from dietary changes to healthy flora to boric acid. We've noticed what could be a pattern: It seems like periods of intense sex will often precede an infection for her. So now we're wondering if maybe I have yeast as well, and we've just been passing it back and forth all these years. Some of the advice in the BPN archives suggests this could be the case.
My question is more specific, though: how does a man identify and/or treat a yeast infection? I'm following her diet, and I've even tried some clotrimazole cream even though I don't show any symptoms. Has anyone else out there dealt with this? Men: what did you do? Women: how did you fix your men? Many thanks, Time to Fix This For Good
Yes, men can get penile yeast infections, and partners can pass the infection back and forth. And symptoms in men can be much less noticeable. I'm sure you'll get lots of advice -- just google and you'll see tons of info. I'm surprised that her doctor didn't already ask to see you! Anon
My wife has dealt with yeast effectively going to see a Clinical Ecologist M.D. (In Boston) Dr.advised nutritional supplements including oregano oil and some other items. My wife has used Pau D'Arco tea successfully, and fresh raw garlic has strong anti-fungal & yeast properties. I would also look into probiotics. Jarrow-dophilus makes a good one. Do do research first & consult practitioner. Good luck david
Hi. I experienced your experience for a couple of years. After taking tons of medicine, eliminating sugar, and trying to modify our stress triggers, my gyne gave me a very common sense solution that has obliterated the repeated yeast infection battles: after sex, make sure you and your spouse immediately wash your private parts with WARM WATER and DRY THOROUGHLY, then jump back into bed and cuddle! It sounds too simple but it's worked for us and we have been yeast free for over five years! good luck anon
My mother had this same thing occur after my birth. Her yeast infections were recurrent over a 2 year period. She noticed the same thing after more frequent sex. She went to her doctor, explained what was happening, and the doctor gave her an oral treatment (something akin to Fluconazole) and prescribed the same medication (in the same dosage) for my father. This finally did the trick. The topical medications don't do much for men, as the yeast can live just inside where it is warm and moist (yeast's favorite thing), which is why women often need internal (and sometimes oral) treatment as well. This may be what you need. Not sure if your wife's doctor will give a prescription for both of you or not, you may need to go in to your general practioner yourself so you can get it too. Good luck! Oral medication may be the answer
Like your wife, I had a big battle with yeast for many years. My boyfriend at the time did have evidence of an infection once -- right after he took a course of antibiotics. He was intact, and it was basically a lot of little red dots everywhere the foreskin covered. It cleared right up with clotrimazole. He never had any evidence of yeast at any other time. After I broke up with him, and did not replace him with a new boyfriend, I still had the yeast problem for about a year. It was only after I stopped drinking milk that the yeast problem went away, suddenly and completely.
Here is my understanding of the problem. Yeast is a normal bug that a woman's body is normally able to keep under control. If her system is not in balance, the yeast will get out of control.
It is probably not your fault, although I commend you for going on the diet and for looking into what else you can do. Here are all the things that could bring on a bad yeast infection in me:
- antibiotic hand wash (just on my hands, too)
- antibiotic soap
- milk (maybe because of the antibiotics given to the cows? I never liked the taste of organic milk so I didn't drink it)
- yup, too much sex (I think it was too irritating in the presence of a low-grade yeast infection) Here are the things that helped keep the yeast to a minimum, before I realized that milk was the problem:
- clotrimazole cream every night
- Diflucan occasionally
- only cotton underwear, always washed in hot water
- that yeast diet with no sugar and no fungus (but that was too hard to stick to) Acidophilus didn't seem to help, and neither did boric acid.
I don't know whether milk is the cause in your wife's case, but I do hope that something I've listed can help the two of you deal with this very annoying problem. Good luck! anon
Does anyone have any good preventative treatments for yeast infections? I get one almost every month, usually a day or so after my period. I know it must be caused by the pH changes, but I would love to know a homeopathic, medical, or folk remedy to prevent them. (I use over the counter Gynelotrimin once I get symptoms). Any ideas?
It occurred to me that you might not actually be curing the original yeast infection, especially if you have been using the one or three-day creams available at the stores--then when the pH changes even slightly, things can quickly get out of whack again. I would advise you to try the seven-day creams if you haven't already, or ask your doctor to prescribe the one-time pill for you. The pill does carry some minute risk of liver damage, so you might opt for the cream. But lots of women I know have tried it and it has been welcome relief for them...Good luck. Elizabeth
You can actually douche periodically (once am onth) with water with only a touch of apple cider vinegar, about 1 tablespoon. That should return the proper ph balance. However, once you've got a yeast infection, I heard a naturopath on KPFA suggest taking a clove of garlic, wrapped in tiny piece of cheese cloth with a string tied around the top, and insert that into your vagina. be sure the string is long enough so that you don't lose it. You can leave it there for a day or two since garlic acts like a natural anti-biotic. I spoke to someone who does it and says it really works. Jody
An excellent way to treat and prevent yeast infections is to take acidopholus capsules. You can buy them at health food stores and even Andronico's. Melissa
I was recommended by a nurse to use Boric Acid. It is now the only thing I use when I start to feel an infection coming on. You can find in any health food stores, gelatin capsules size 00. Fill them with Boric Acid (a powder that you can buy in a jar) and insert like a suppository. My best way of describing it is it cleans you right out. Since I started using this remedy, I have found others who use it too. I have also had many fewer infections (I think it brings the acidity back up to normal, which I'm not sure the medications do adequately. Freyja
I used to get yeast infections all the time, particularly when I was biking a lot. I asked my obgyn about it and she suggested that I sleep at night with only a nightgown on (no underpants -- not even cotton). She said that I just needed to give that whole area some time to air out. I tried it and found that within a few days I had totally solved the problem. I now suffer from only the occasional yeast infection. Hurray! Such a simple solution.
Don't take baths, use spermicide or KY gel, also check out your diet, are you eating too many greasy or spicy things. Also, stay away from antibiotics, most of the time you don't need them anyway unless you get a severe viral infection like Meningitis. And a homeopathic remedy once you get a yeast infection is to use just plain yogurt instead of the glycom.....whatever those creams and gels are called.
To get rid of persistent yeast infections my doctor advised me to treat my husband for the same time and with the same medicine as myself. Most diffucult was to convince him to do it, but since that time (more than 10 years ago) - no yeast infections. Sophia
preventing yeast infections: trying douching with a water/vinegar solution. Sold in all pharmacies. Mary
I went through a period of getting monthly yeast infections as well. Since I was on the pill, my gynecologist told me to just skip the week of placebo pills and continue taking the active pills every week. This did help the yeast problem, but it felt strange and somehow unhealthy to me to be taking hormones every day with no break time. My periods also became much lighter and lasted only a few days each month, which didn't seem right either. After a few months, I went back to the normal schedule of three weeks on, one week off the pill, and the yeast infections never returned. If you are on the pill, you may want to talk to your gyn about this treatment to see if it might work for you. Perhaps your doctor will be able to explain the possible side effects better than mine did, and you might feel more comfortable with this remedy than I did.
Years ago I had chronic yeast infections. At the time I exclusively wore undies made of synthetic materials. After switching to cotton I NEVER had a yeast infection again. If you don't already, you might try wearing cotton underwear.
Ask your doctor for prescription medicine called Diflucan; it can get rid of yeast infections that are resistant to over-the-counter medications. The usual dose is one pill; you could discuss with your doctor whether a second pill a day later would be appropriate. Also, if you have a partner, consider having your partner talk to a doctor about whether they could be a source of reinfection. And eat yogurt daily; it really works. Marina
I'm allergic to over-the-counter preparations, so here's what I do: Potassium sorbate is a yeast inhibitor and powerful fungicide; it's used in brewing beer, and you can get it at any home-brewing supply shop (there's one on San Pablo, north of University). If I feel an infection coming on, I make a 3% solution by mixing 8 grams (about 1 TBL) in a cup of water. Then I soak a tampon in it and insert that overnight (or sometimes during the day). Usually one treatment is all that's required, never more than three. Anne
The book Herbal Healing for Women by Rosemary Gladstar has all sorts of remedies one could try for yeast infections, it would be worth checking out. beth
I struggle with yeast infections all the time. If I don't take measures, I too will get them once a month, around my period, and sometimes at other times, like during or after a course of antibiotics. Here are the things that I do that seem to help me.
1) Acidophilus. I usually take two capsules each night at bedtime. You can find various qualities and brands of acidophilus in stores. In general, I would recommend the ones with live culture (you can get them at health food stores, or at Whole Foods, or the like). I will also use regular capsules (bought at Safeway or drugstore.com or the like), but I try to avoid the pressed caplets, as I don't think the acidophilus in them is very effective.
2) Caprylic Acid (also called Octanoic Acid, I think). I usually take one tablet of this nightly. Sometimes if I'm out of Acidophilus, I've tried taking two of these instead, but that usually rebounds on me and precipitates a yeast infection (which is consistent with an article I read once--you can get too much of this one). People who can't tolerate Acidophilus can usually still take this one. These can be gotten at Whole Foods in Berkeley.
3) Red Raspberry leaf. I usually take two of these each night. They are available most places (Whole Foods, drugstore.com etc), and are supposed to be good for women's gynecological health. I take these in combination with Cranberry extract (500mg daily), to combat the dual problems of Urinary tract infections and yeast infections, both of which I'm prone to, unfortunately.
4) Yogurt. If you like it, eat it regularly. It contains acidophilus in a very natural form. Best are plain or low sugar kinds (since the sugar is good for the yeast to eat, and will promote yeast infections), but *for me* the sugared kind is OK to eat. You can also use it as a topical treatment (spoon or squeeze the yogurt inside of you during a yeast infection), but if you do this, it *must* be unsweetened, plain yogurt.
5) Vinegar douches. You can get a douche bag at any drug store. Fill it with warm water at a comfortable temperature, and 1 to 2 tablespoons of plain white vinegar. Do this whenever you suspect an infection to be coming on. You can try it daily as a preventative, but more than that could be too much acid for your system. Sometimes if I do this early enough, I can prevent a full-blown yeast infection.
6) Homeopathic preparations. There are a number of homeopathic remedies available as well. I haven't found them to be nearly as effective as Monistat, etc., but you could consult someone at Whole Foods to see if there are any that might help you.
7) Monistat or Gynelotrimin. You've been using at least one of these, of course. I find that switching which one I'm using periodically can help for some reason (resistance on the part of the yeast?), since they are slightly different chemical compounds. Sometimes, if I am suspecting an infection, I might zap it right away with one of these, and beat it without having to do the full 7 day treatment. (Note that the oils in these make them incompatible with latex condoms. But Avanti polyurethane condoms are OK to use with them). BTW: a friend of mine is allergic to corn, and one of the versions of one of these had corn oil in it, while none of the rest did. Check out the ingredients carefully if you have any sensitivities like this.
8) Dietary restrictions. If you have a lot of trouble with yeast, you might consider eliminating or reducing several items in your diet: Sugar, Beer or bubbly alcoholic drinks, and Bread. These all encourage yeast growth, or have yeast in them. Severe cases of systemic yeast infections usually require eliminating all of these from the diet. But if your case is more mild, you might just want to watch to see if these affect you, and eliminate or reduce them in the week before your period, for instance.
9) Treat your husband. Men can get silent yeast infections, and he could be passing it back to you. Give *him* the acidophilus and caprylic acid for a while, and see if it helps.
I hope some of these might help you. Good luck! Dawn
I recall my very well-read homeopathic masseuse telling me that decreasing sugar intake lowers yeast infections. Has anyone seen any medical literature on subject? It doesn't sound too logical, but I'd like to hear what others had researched. Also, a nurse practitioner once told me years ago to put a capsule of acophidophilus? (that bacteria you could get in milk) which is good for our GI track. As I recall it worked in a couple of days. But who knows, maybe it was going to go away anyway?
I tend to get monthly yeast infections too. What keeps them at bay is cutting back on sugar. If I'm overdoing sugar, or sometimes eating what for some people is a normal amoun I'm sure to get one. Good luck.
Are you sure that you've got a yeast infection? Yeast typically likes the pH before the period comes, not after. After is more typical of Bacterial vaginosis, or gardnerella. If it is yeast, however, you're probably low in Acidophilus and Bifido bacteria. You can supplement these both in your diet and vaginally throughout the month to help restore normal floral balance. You also may want to change the type of menstrual pads you are using. The one's that are plastic coated, like Always, hold moisture close to the vagina, making it a happy place for yeast to grow. All cotton underwear helps too. Good luck! Tara
I find I get yeast infections when i am slightly dehydrated. Eating too many things with refined sugar at the same time as being dehydrated really bring it on. So i recommend trying to drink tons more water and reducing sweet food and drink intake. Also - with regards to the yogurt thing...rather than relying solely on eating it, I use a bit of yogurt, or an acidophilus capsule, as a vaginal insert. Good luck! I don't get them nearly as often as I used to (used to be 10 times per year, now twice a year)
I have great advice as I have had the same problem for about 3 years. Large doses (3-5 tablets each) of garlic and acidophilus are one way to nip an infection in the bud. I also take it prophylactically (1-2 tablets each) and avoid infections altogether. I know it is working because if I forget, the infections return just after my period.
I used to have frequent yeast infections and started eating yogurt, with live cultures everyday. I eat 1-2 cups each day, often mixing plain and flavored yogurt to cut back on the sugar content. I have not had a yeast infection in years.
One thing no one seems to have mentioned: I can't recall if you've been tested for Type 2 diabetes -- one of the first symptoms of its early onset is recurrent yeast infections. Worth checking, since it's much easier to deal with diabetes if it's caught very early. Karen
A number of people mentioned taking Acidophilous capsules as a prevention. One thing I didn't see mentioned was using those same capsules as a suppository in the vagina. My college doctor told me to do this around the time of my period and other times I felt one coming on, and as a result what were chronic and frequent yeast infections have rarely bothered me since. I think the casules (as opposed to the tablets) work best--they disolve over night easily.
One other thing to add to all the good advice about Yeast infections: if you have problems with yeast, irritation, maybe UTIs, make sure you are not using a deodorant soap. Use only the mildest, least allergenic soaps. Remember that natural soaps can be irritating too. My skin reacts to many chemicals and metals, including spermicides and sunscreens. Dove soap seems to work ok for me. Before I figured this out I spent a lot of time being uncomfortable!
Many people responded to this, and I'd like to second most of the advice. I had this problem many years ago, and found that several things were needed to stop them.
1- As others suggested, treat your partner at the same time. You are almost certainly getting it back from him. That means that if you buy over-the-counter creams, then he should put it on his penis every day for the same period.
2- If you are still getting them, consider going back to the dr. and asking to be checked for a bacterial infection. One person wrote back about that. This also seemed to be my problem, and I was prescribed some sort of anitbiotic cream, and the problem went away. It sounds like it would be worth asking your dr. about this anyway, to get a culture to check for bacterial infection.
3- To prevent recurrence, my dr suggested (as many others did) a periodic douche of a weak vinegar-water solution, to keep the pH balance appropriate. (An ob/gyn actually prescribed me an acetic acid cream, which is used much like the antifungal creams for yeast infections. I preferred this to the douche, though my primary dr. rolled her eyes at how unnecessary it was considering that I could douche)
4. Many of the other things that facilitated but did not cause yeast infections included: not enough air in your genital area, not enough water to drink, too much sugar, etc. So I'd agree with the advice about sleeping w/o undies and looser clothing, and while I still bike ride (tight nylon pants, little air for a short while) and don't have a problem w/ that, making sure that you give your genital area a chance to breathe is important. The first time I ever got an infection was after spending several days in a wetsuit in and out of the water on several hot days.
5. Change of partners is a problem. If you have one consistent supportive partner, that's great. My experience was that I was almost guaranteed a yeast infection in the first four months of a new relationship, and in some cases they didn't seem to stop.
6. For me, the biggest factor was friction. If my vagina was even a little dry during sex, or got irritated in any way (e.g., could happen from tight clothes, new detergent, etc), I could feel an infection coming on (which frequently but not always was averted by the vinegar stuff). So I'd disagree with the person who said don't use lubricating jellies, unless those happen to irritate you or cause allergic reactions. Certain types of condoms could irritate you as well. And in this case, size can matter. Smaller is better, if friction is an issue....
7. Many people swear by the diet and homeopathic solutions. For me, yogurt, acidopholus, cranberry juice, cutting down sugar, did nothing. However, urinating after sex (that was a big factor, also recommended by my dr.), showering religiously (particularly after sex or exercise), and drinking plenty of water did help.
8. Keep your chin up. It is possible to not have yeast infections. I can't remember the last time I had one, and I finally threw away all those extra boxes of creams that I'd buy whenever they were on sale.
There has been some discussion about whether using lubricants during sex helps or hinders the fight against chronic yeast infections. It depends on what is in the lubricant. Those that contain glycerin, such as Astroglide and other well-known brands, tend to predispose women to yeast infections because glycerin breaks down to sugar in the vagina and feeds infection. These are the lubes that get sticky as the glycerin dries. There are many alternatives, however. The best water-based glycerin-free lube I have found is Liquid Silk, a British import which is available at the erotica store Passion Flower, off Piedmont Avenue near MacArthur Blvd. in Oakland (510-601-7750). There are also silicone-based lubes such as Wet Platinum which have a different feel and are more expensive, but do not contain glycerin either. Be careful with warming jellies and flavored fun-type lotions, as some of those contain glycerin and/or sugar. Also, sometimes people are simply allergic to something in a lube, and that reaction is not a yeast infection but can feel like one or predispose you to get one. Finally, I thought I would mention that not all OTC meds are created equal, even when they contain the same active ingredient. Gynelotrimin never worked well for me and I found it caused irritation, while Mycelex worked really well-- they both contain clotrimazole, but the cream base differs.
1999 I'm interested in a local (Berkeley-area) MD and/or nutritionist skilled in treating severe systemic yeast. Should be someone who understands yeast in men as well as women, can be enthusiastic about the possibility of treating it with diet and supplements, and has good eating ideas and low-key guidance for making a switch from pasta and sugars to healthier foods. (Ideally the person would take Aetna insurance.)
Aryoveta (sp?) medicine, India's ancient knowledge of herbs and human cycles,is very succesful in dealing with yeast infections. Here is the phone number of a young, intelligent, sensitive local Aryoveta doctor who might be able to help you: Stuart Baker - 848-7770