Chronic yeast infections?

Originally Published: December 6, 1996 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: December 30, 2011
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Alice,

I have chronic yeast infections. My doctor basically said that I have a pH imbalance and to stock up on Mycelex or similar creams. This answer, to me, is unsatisfactory. There must be something I can do to keep my pH level in balance, or at least on the acidic side. Do lactobacillus and acidophilus tablets keep the vagina more acidic to prevent a yeast infection?

Dear Reader,

While yeast infections are very common (three out of four women get one at some point), it sounds like there is more to this problem than meets the eye. Yeast infections are often treated effectively with over-the-counter (OTC) medications, but it is important that you see your healthcare provider to ensure that the cause of your vaginal discomfort is in fact a yeast infection. Several diseases and infections appear to be yeast infections, but are not. Using yeast infection medication when you don't have a yeast infection may create new problems. Having your health care provider diagnose your symptoms each time can be helpful in figuring out an appropriate treatment.

Did your health care provider say your yeast infections are "chronic," or did s/he use another term, such as "recurrent?" The distinction between chronic and recurrent is subtle, but important. Chronic means that a disease or condition will be present most, or all, of the time for a very long period of time, possibly for the rest of your life. Chronic yeast infections are usually indicative of a more serious health problem, such as a lowered immune response or diabetes. If you do have chronic yeast infections, you may want to have a complete medical checkup, including testing for all sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV. This may help determine what, if any, systemic problem is causing these yeast infections.

Recurrent implies that you are able to effectively treat a certain infection or condition, but that it's likely to return. With recurrent yeast infections, it is a good idea to have a culture of the yeast done to figure out what strain of yeast you have. There are strains of yeast that do not respond to the usual antifungal creams. If this is the case, your health care provider may be able to prescribe a more appropriate medication. Moreover, you may want to speak with your health care provider before taking lactobacillus or acidophilus tablets, as research shows mixed results for yogurt remedies for yeast infections.

What do yeast infections and bread have in common? It is important to have just the right amount of yeast! The following tips may help keep you balanced and decrease your risk of acquiring a yeast infection:

  • Avoid overusing antibiotics — prolonged and overly aggressive use of antibiotics can kill the good bacteria that live inside of the vagina, leading to the overgrowth of yeast.
  • Stay away from spermicidal creams and jellies, which alter the vaginal flora and increasing the adhesion of organisms that can cause yeast infections.
  • Avoid douching and using scented tampons, pads, or other feminine hygiene sprays. Chemicals in these products can be irritate the skin and mucous membranes, and change the natural pH balance of the vagina.
  • Wear cotton underwear and loose fitting pants, skirts, and/or pantyhose — this leaves more room for ventilation.
  • Change out of wet clothes such as swimwear and exercise clothes as soon as possible.

It sounds like your situation calls for a more thorough investigation. An accurate diagnosis may make it easier to treat your symptoms and steer clear of frequent infections. Consider getting a second opinion if you are unsatisfied with your current doctor's recommendations. Columbia students can make an appointment through Open Communicator or by calling Medical Services at x4-2284. Here's to staying itch-free!

Alice

June 28, 2013

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I know this article is old, but I want to comment because I had the exact same problem. I had recurring yeast infections for about a year that were not helped by topical medications, and the Diflucan...
I know this article is old, but I want to comment because I had the exact same problem. I had recurring yeast infections for about a year that were not helped by topical medications, and the Diflucan I was prescribed caused an overgrowth of lactobacilli (which has the same symptoms as a yeast infection but is untreatable, and is also a result of an acidic environment). I began washing the outside of my vagina with baking soda every time I showered and have not had an infection since! Baking soda raises the pH of the vagina which exactly what I needed. A word of warning : do not do this unless you have a pH imbalance as described by the reader and do not do this if you have had other infections other than yeast infections! If you have a higher vaginal pH, doing this can cause BV or other infections. The other thing that REALLY helped me was lowering my blood sugar. I was already really healthy, but I went on the Atkins Diet and woah what a difference! Now I only wash with baking soda once a week or if I've been sitting a long time, wearing a bathing suit a lot, etc. You don't need to do such an extreme diet though, just cutting out added sugars and switching to whole grains can make a huge difference. And of course, still follow the advice from Alice, which I'm sure is what doctors have told you too. I hope this helps somebody!

March 22, 2012

508976
I have had a chronic yeast infection for the last six months. the doctor prescribed all the different meds. I began eating yogurt everyday, but it didn't do a thing. I decided to buy an acidophilus...
I have had a chronic yeast infection for the last six months. the doctor prescribed all the different meds. I began eating yogurt everyday, but it didn't do a thing. I decided to buy an acidophilus supplement with 2 billion active cultures and after 2 1/2 weeks of taking one pill a day my yeast is totally gone. It has also helped with my digestion. I am reducing the supplement down to once per month in order to keep my healthy bacteria numbers up. The supplement works!

August 25, 2004

20786
Dear Alice,

I would just like to tell this woman that I am suffering from something very similar. I'm not sure if my yeast is chronic or recurrent, but to me, all I care about is that it stops...

Dear Alice,

I would just like to tell this woman that I am suffering from something very similar. I'm not sure if my yeast is chronic or recurrent, but to me, all I care about is that it stops!! I have been to my doctors frequently and every time they tell me it's yeast when they look at it under the microscope. But they still could not give me any solution to the problem, except by saying that some people just have this. That is not a satisfactory answer in my opinion. My point to this response is that I have been taking the lactobacillus for about a year now, and IT DOES WORK. It works really well. It is a digestive enzyme, but all parts of the body are related. The only one problem that I have with it is that I seem to keep having to take more after a yeast infection brought on by anitbiotics, which I seem to be on a lot of the time. I just want to tell anyone who is interested to try this enzyme, It won't hurt to try it for yourself!!

May 30, 2003

20486
Dear Alice,

I had recurrent thrush and your page helped a lot, thank you. BUT! I just want to share that I have discovered a very cheap and effective cure: insert a clove of garlic in the vagina...

Dear Alice,

I had recurrent thrush and your page helped a lot, thank you. BUT! I just want to share that I have discovered a very cheap and effective cure: insert a clove of garlic in the vagina. It works so fast and also has other benefits. I want to share this with every woman who needs a cure: IT REALLY WORKS!!! Even better if sliced in half and frozen, or at least refrigerated.

Thanks,
Penny S.