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FEATURE


        Is it okay to ‘tough out’



        a yeast infection?





        Self-diagnosing below the belt isn’t always a smart decision


          tching, burning, redness -- a yeast   So, how’s a girl to know the difference   vagina. Application methods and
          infection can be a total pain.     between a yeast infection or        length of treatment will depend on
       IWhile they aren’t life-threatening,   something else? The most common    the brand you choose. If you suffer
        yeast infections are irritating -- both   symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection   from recurring yeast infections a few
        physically and mentally. So, when    include:                            times a year, it’s probably OK to use
        undesirable symptoms appear                                              these over-the-counter medications
        ‘down there,’ should you consult     •   Burning, redness, itching and   as treatment -- but you should still
        your physician or self diagnose and     swelling of the vagina and vulva  talk to your health care provider just
        treat with over-the-counter (OTC)    •   Thick, white vaginal discharge   to be safe.
        medications?                            similar to cottage cheese that
                                                does not have an odor            “You should always check these
        First things first, unfortunately,   •   Pain during intercourse or      products to ensure they are actually
        almost all women will experience        urination                        an anti-fungal and will successfully
        at least one yeast infection (genital                                    treat and resolve the infection,”
        candidiasis) -- an infection caused by   Luckily, there’s a pretty quick solution   Sulak said. “Millions of dollars are
        an overgrowth of the fungus Candida   for women who suffer from first-time   spent every year on OTC products
        -- at some point in life. In fact, the   yeast infections and exacerbated   that have no anti-yeast medication
        Centers for Disease Control and      yeast infections that don’t respond   and claim they treat yeast infections.
        Prevention (CDC) estimates nearly    to topical treatment. “The good     Instead, some of these medications
        75 percent of women are likely to    news about yeast infections is that   only contain a local antiesthetic
        contract one yeast infection in their   they are always treatable,” Sulak   to alleviate certain symptoms like
        lifetime, with up to 45 percent of   said. “For women who get chronic    burning.”
        women experiencing recurring ones.   yeast infections, oral prescription
        Menopausal women are the group       medications are extremely effective.   The good news is when a yeast
        most prone to yeast infections, but   Studies have shown patients who    infection flares up, you’re not at risk
        they can affect anyone.              took prescription yeast infection   for any other health conditions. “The
                                             tablets once a week for several     worst thing that can happen when
        “Is this illness actually a yeast    months treated the condition        you don’t immediately treat a yeast
        infection?”                          faster. When you need long-term     infection is it develops into a really
                                             maintenance therapy for yeast       bad yeast infection,” Sulak said.
        “This is the question women need to   infections, this tablet is the only   “When the yeast becomes embedded
        ask when symptoms first present,”    answer. Over-the-counter medications   in the skin, it can cause redness and
        said Patricia Sulak, M.D., a board   won’t provide the same result.”     inflammation in the entire genital
        certified OB/GYN and professor at                                        area. These infections may take
        the Texas A&M College of Medicine.   While there are many options        weeks to completely treat.”
        “Many women think itching and        available OTC to treat yeast
        burning in the vaginal area only     infections, Sulak cautioned         Important to note, if symptoms
        signals a yeast infection, but this   against using them for a first-time   continue despite the use of OTC anti-
        is not true. These symptoms are      vaginal infection. “Any woman who   fungal products, it’s time to make an
        indicative of a variety of conditions,   experiences discomfort and abnormal   appointment with your physician. “If
        including genital herpes.”           symptoms in the vaginal area should   you use over-the-counter medication
                                             always consult her health care      and your symptoms abate, that’s
        Sulak added irritation of the genital   provider,” she said. “Again, this is   great,” Sulak said. “But, if they keep
        area can also manifest as yeast      imperative because yeast infection   recurring, you need to get checked
        infection symptoms. “You could have   symptoms are extremely similar to   out. The bottom line is, if your
        itching and redness from shaving,    symptoms of sexually transmitted    symptoms don’t go away, you need to
        or from chemical irritation. There   diseases.”                          be seen.”
        really is no reason to use scented
        bath products or put perfumes and    You can buy non-prescription        Story Source:
        powders in the genital area,” she    yeast infection medications at your   Materials provided by Texas A&M
        said. “All of these things will cause   local pharmacy in the form of anti-  University. Original written by Lauren
        undesirable and unwanted symptoms    fungal creams, tablets, ointments   Thompson. Note: Content may be
        in your sensitive nether region.”    or suppositories you insert into the   edited for style and length.


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