Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP is the Chair of the Department of Medicine at Michigan State University. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt Medical School, and completed her residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Indiana University.
Bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis will not go away with home care or
over-the-counter medications. They require antibiotics. You must see your health
Only yeast infections may respond to over-the-counter
medications. If you have never had a yeast infection and think you have one, it
is important that your health care provider agrees with this diagnosis before
you try any home care techniques or over-the-counter medications. Generally, the
of yeast infection should be treated by your health care provider.
After the first infection, if a second infection occurs and you have no
doubt it is a yeast infection, you may treat yourself with one course of
over-the-counter vaginal medication, such as miconazole (brand name Monistat and
an antifungal vaginal medication.
Because over-the-counter treatments have become available, many women
diagnose themselves with a yeast infection, when, in fact, about two-thirds of
all remedies purchased in stores to treat yeast infection were used by women who
did not really have one. Using these drugs when they are not needed may lead to
a resistant infection. Resistant infections are very difficult to treat with the
currently available medications. If in doubt, consult your health care provider.
Many current over-the-counter medications are available for mild cases of
yeast infection. The cure rates with the nonprescription drugs are about 75%-90%.
The medications are sold as vaginal suppositories or creams. They are
inserted into the vagina with a plunger-type applicator and are usually used one
each day for seven days. Stronger doses are given over one to three days only. Most women can
treat yeast infections at home with these medications:
Massage these remedies into your vagina and surrounding tissues for one to
days or insert the suppository form into your vagina, depending on the
formulation and instructions. If increased irritation occurs to the area, discontinue the
If you are pregnant, consult your doctor before using these treatments.
If symptoms continue for more than 1 week, consult your doctor. You may
have a severe yeast infection or other problems that mimic a yeast infection.
Home care techniques have been used for many years although scientific
studies have not proven their effectiveness.
Vinegar douches: While many women use a douche to clean themselves after
menstrual periods or sexual intercourse, doctors discourage such routine
cleansing. The vagina is made to cleanse itself. Douching may remove the healthy
bacteria lining the vagina. By attempting to treat an abnormal vaginal discharge
by douching, you might actually worsen the condition. Do not douche without your
health care provider's knowledge when you have an abnormal discharge, and do not
douche for 24 hours prior to seeing the doctor.
Eating yogurt that contains live acidophilus cultures (or eating
acidophilus capsules): Yogurt acts as a medium for certain good bacteria to
thrive. Despite popular belief, studies about the benefits of eating yogurt with
lactobacillus acidophilus cultures as a way to prevent yeast infection have
yielded conflicting results. The scientific benefit of consuming yogurt cultures
has not yet been proven.
Other products available over-the-counter contain antihistamines or topical
anesthetics (numbing medications) that only mask the symptoms and do not treat
the underlying problem.