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Why Treating Yeast Infection Symptoms Won’t Cure You

We’ve all been there. Things are hunky-dory, then all of the sudden, you notice a bit more discharge and you start feeling a wee bit itchy down there. You assume you’ve got a yeast infection, so you go to the drug store, where you’re inundated by over-the-counter products that promise you relief from your yeast infection. You buy one anti-itch cream after another, and you feel better for a day or two. But then you wake up and BAM! You’re scratching your vajayjay so hard you’re leaving claw marks. So you slather on some more Vagisil, and for a few hours, you feel better, until you take a shower and notice that your vulva is bright red, you’re spewing a cottage-cheesy discharge, and that darned itch is back with a vengeance.

This happened to a patient of mine. Her poor vulva was beet red, the walls of her vagina were coated with this crazy thick discharge, and she drew blood from scratching so hard. She had never had a yeast infection before, so she had gone to the drug store to buy some Vagisil, which she believed would cure her yeast infection. But 48 hours later, she was 100 times worse. She spent the next two weeks fussing with over-the-counter anti-itch creams that made her feel better for a few hours, but the symptoms always returned.

Finally, her husband, who was bummed that weeks had gone by since he’d gotten lucky with his wife, convinced her to come see me. I examined her, looked at her discharge under the microscope, and sent her next door to buy some Monistat. “Monistat?” she asked. “Donít you need to prescribe something for me?” I shook my head. This was her first ever yeast infection and she hadn’t even tried Monistat yet. Most yeast infections clear right up when you treat them with an anti-fungal like Monistat. Sure, I could pull out my prescription pad and prescribe Terazol or Diflucan, but why do that when an affordable over-the-counter product is likely to do the trick without some of the risks (like the risk of liver failure, in the case of Diflucan)? I recommended that she use the Monistat, as well as take sitz baths with oatmeal to reduce the inflammation and help the itching. Two days later, her husband called me to report that his wife was cured and to thank me. He was happy to report that he’d finally gotten laid again. He now calls me “Miracle Pussy.” (*Lissa beams proudly*)

Why don’t anti-itch creams cure yeast infections?

Because you didn’t cure the root of the problem. Anti-itch creams like Vagisil aimed at helping relieve your symptoms do not cure the yeastie beasties that are causing your symptoms in the first place. Sure, they make you feel better for a while, but while you’re masking the symptoms with anti-itch creams, those yeasties are multiplying. The longer you wait to treat your infection, the more severe it can become. Next thing you know, you’re showing up in my gynecology office, looking haggard and flustered because you couldn’t catch a wink of sleep because you were too busy holding an ice pack to your cooch.

What about you, Pinkies? Any yeast infection horror stories? Have you ever come down with the yeastie itchies at the least opportune time (like, ahem, right before a book tour)?

Related Links:
20 Things Every Woman Should Know About her Vagina
Win the Yeast Infection War
Ask the Loveologist: Pain Down There?

Read more: General Health, Gynecology, Health, Sexual Health, Women's Health, , , , , , , , ,

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Lissa Rankin

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the†Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of†Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself.† She is on a grassroots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.† Lissa blogs at† and also created two online communities -† and† She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.


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1:33PM PDT on Sep 22, 2012

Caprylic Acid is an anti candida supplement is a naturally occurring fatty acid that has been shown to kill candida organisms. Also, Probiotics - good bacteria that keeps the body's internal environment balanced, and helps the body to synthesize vitamins. Such bacteria also produce hydrogen peroxide, which effectively destroys candida albicans. These are the two most important ingredients! I used to take them as individual supplements, but Lady Soma put them into 1 pill - so now I use Lady Soma's Candida Advanced Cleanse. It worked amazingfor me, and I prefer taking one pill, instead of multiple to keep the overgrowth away. Best of luck to you!

10:14AM PDT on May 26, 2012


4:24AM PST on Nov 13, 2011

Thanks for the article.

5:29PM PST on Nov 7, 2011

thanks for the info

5:29PM PST on Nov 7, 2011

thanks for the info

12:39AM PDT on Nov 6, 2011

Thank you

10:17AM PDT on Jul 7, 2011

Thanks, but Monistat does not always work either.

12:14PM PST on Feb 7, 2011

Deborah - try taking a bath with 12 drops of tea tree oil in the water. Then, after you get out of the bath (and dry yourself thoroughly with a clean towel), mix two drops of tea tree oil into a quarter-sized drop of vaginal moisturizer and rub that on the skin of your vulva and into the opening of your vagina. This will probably sting - be careful not to use too much tea tree oil. Do this daily and it should clear up within a few days, no more than a week. After I treated a stubborn yeast infection that way about six years ago I never got one again! Continue taking the acidophilus daily, as it's good for many things, not just preventing future yeast infections.

12:02PM PST on Feb 7, 2011

I get them ALL the time. I don't know what to do. I am taking acidophilus now after some recommendations. I have used everything, Monostat, Diflucan, you name it. But they keep coming back. I was tested for diabetes which can cause them, and I don't have that. I DO however eat many carbs and am finding that a very hard habit to kick. Any other advise? This is driving me bonkers.

2:36AM PST on Nov 26, 2010

Thanks for the info.

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