If your symptoms are severe or they don’t get better after treatment with an over-the-counter cream or suppository, call your doctor.
Signs of a complicated infection include:
- Severe symptoms (such as redness, swelling, and itching so severe that it causes tears or sores)
- A yeast infection that occurs four or more times in a year
- You’ve developed other kinds of symptoms.
- This is your first yeast infection.
- You’re not sure whether you have a yeast infection or something else.
There are many reasons you could get a yeast infection, including:
- Hormones: Changes during pregnancy, breast-feeding or menopause (or if you’re taking birth control pills) can change the balance in your vagina.
- Diabetes: If your diabetes is not well-controlled, the increase in sugar in the mucus membranes (moist linings) of your vagina can create a place for yeast to grow.
- Antibiotics: These drugs can kill off many of the good bacteria that live in your vagina.
- Douches and vaginal sprays: The use of these products can change the balance in your vagina.
- A weakened immune system: If you are HIV-positive or have another immune system disorder, the yeast may also grow uncontrolled.
- Sex: Though a yeast infection is not considered a sexually transmitted infection, it can be passed from person to person through sexual contact.
- Short-course vaginal therapy. Taking an antifungal medication for three to seven days will usually clear a yeast infection. Antifungal medications — which are available as creams, ointments, tablets and suppositories — include miconazole (Monistat 3) and terconazole. Some of these medications are available over-the-counter and others by prescription only.
- Single-dose oral medication. Your doctor might prescribe a one-time, single oral dose of fluconazole (Diflucan). Oral medication isn’t recommended if you’re pregnant. To manage more-severe symptoms, you might take two single doses three days apart.
When to see a doctor
- Women should see a healthcare provider the first time vaginal yeast infection symptoms occur or if they are unsure as to whether they have a yeast infection. If certain, the condition can be treated with over-the-counter medications.
- However, if symptoms do not respond to one course of over-the-counter medications, yeast infection may not be the problem.
- Pregnant women or those with weakened immune systems should contact a doctor before beginning any over-the-counter self-treatment.
- Women who experience recurrent vaginal yeast infections, or yeast infections that do not clear up with treatment, should immediately contact a healthcare provider for professional diagnosis and management.
- If a woman has more than four episodes of vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) in a year, she is deemed to have recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis, a chronic yeast infection problem.