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Candid about Yeast Infections: What you Need to Know

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Candidiasis more commonly known as a yeast infection is thought of as a taboo topic among women, although an estimated three out of four women will experience a yeast infection in their lifetime.

The itchy and uncomfortable infection can cause more than discomfort, it can also cause embarrassment. Studies suggest that nine percent of women are uncomfortable discussing yeast infections even with their medical doctor. It’s important to be open and honest with a medical doctor to prevent a misdiagnosis.

Jennifer Moyer, vice president of marketing for Insight Pharmaceuticals (Monistat's parent company) speaks of the importance of getting candid about Candidiasis.

Examiner: How can individuals differentiate between a yeast infection and bacterial infection?

Jennifer Moyer: Both yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis share some similar symptoms, bacterial vaginosis is characterized by a fishy odor and a thin, grayish-white discharge. By contrast, yeast infections (candidiasis) do not cause an odor of any sort, and discharge will often be thick, white, and lumpy. If you’re not sure what type of infection you have, visit your doctor to confirm the diagnosis.

Examiner: What causes yeast infections?

Moyer: A yeast infection is caused by an overgrowth of yeast that normally lives in the vagina. There are a number of triggers for yeast infections, ranging from antibiotics to pregnancy to stress, but there are some things you can do to help reduce the risk of getting a yeast infection such as keeping the genital area cool and dry by wearing cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothes, and changing out of wet or damp clothes as soon as possible. You should also avoid douches, scented hygiene products like bubble bath, sprays, pads and tampons, and avoid hot tubs and very hot baths. Also change tampons and pads often during your period.

Talk with your doctor about any [prescription and over-the-counter] drugs you are taking. Certain drugs such as antibiotics, steroids or birth control pills can increase your chances of getting a vaginal yeast infection, but you should not stop taking these drugs without first asking your doctor. They may need to see you to make sure that you do not have other medical conditions, such as diabetes or a weakened immune system.

Examiner: Is it ok to wear tampons when you have a yeast infection?

Moyer: Tampons may remove some of the [treatment drug] from the vagina, so it is best to avoid tampon use when you have a yeast infection. Use deodorant-free sanitary napkins or pads instead, and remember to change them often

Examiner: What is the most effective medication to use in treating yeast infections?

Moyer: There are two ways to cure a yeast infection—vaginally (a topical, over-the-counter treatment or prescription) and orally (a systemic pill, only available in a prescription). Both OTC and prescription treatments will take the same amount of time to cure a yeast infection, but the Monistat combo pack has been shown to relieve symptoms four times faster than the leading prescription treatment.

Because every woman is different, an over-the-counter treatment like Monistat offers different options based on the sensitivities of your body. If it’s your first time dealing with a yeast infection, it is important that you talk to your doctor to determine whether you need to schedule an office visit or whether you can go ahead and try an over-the-counter cure. However, if you are in good health and have been diagnosed with a yeast infection before it is fine to try an over-the-counter remedy.

A product like Monistat offers several easy over-the-counter options for women with one-, three-, and seven-day treatments. The number signifies the amount of days needed to take the treatment, not the time it takes to cure an infection. You still need to finish treatment even if you start feeling better. No matter what length treatment you choose, you should expect a full cure in several days’ time.

Examiner: So what makes the treatment options different?

Moyer: Monistat 1, 3 and 7 each have different concentrations of the active ingredient (miconazole nitrate), so the option you choose depends on how sensitive your body is. For instance, Monistat 1 products have the highest concentration of the active ingredient (1200 mg) vs. the lower dosage (100 mg) in the 7-day treatment. Deciding on what’s best for your body and life will help you decide which treatment is best for you.

One of the added benefits of Monistat is that certain packages come with an external itch relief cream and/or Coolwipes. Monistat 1 can also be used during the day or at night (other Monistat products can only be used at night) and is a great option for women who exercise frequently.

Examiner: Do home remedies work?

There is no clear evidence that home remedies, which includes eating certain food products like garlic, or placing yogurt in your vagina) will cure a yeast infection.

Examiner: Why are some women more prone to yeast infections?

Moyer: There is no clear answer [regarding] why some women are more prone than others, but getting frequent yeast infections (once a month or 3 in 6 months) can be a sign of a more serious health problem like a weakened immune system or diabetes. You should see your doctor if you’re someone experiencing frequent yeast infections.

Examiner: Can yeast infections spread to areas other than vaginal?

Moyer: Yeast is normal to be found not only in the vaginal area, but [also] in other parts of the body, too, and different strains of yeast do exist. There is no reason to believe that a vaginal yeast infection will spread to other parts of your body, though.

Examiner: What foods should you avoid when you have a yeast infection?

Moyer: There are no specific foods that [individuals] should avoid during a yeast infection; however, eating a balanced diet will help [the] body fight off infection during treatment (but is NOT a substitute for treatment).

Examiner: If symptoms don’t go away after using medication, what is the best follow-up method?

Moyer: If symptoms do not get better in 3 days or if symptoms last more than 7 days, these may be signs [of] a more serious medical condition, and [one] should stop the use of the product and contact your doctor.

Examiner: Can medication be used during pregnancy?

Moyer: Pregnant women are more likely to get a vaginal yeast infection due to the chemical and hormonal changes in the vaginal environment. When pregnant, physicians generally recommend using vaginal creams and suppositories only, as oral fluconazole medications are NOT approved for use during pregnancy. Only 7-day topical yeast infection treatments are recommended by the CDC for the treatment of yeast infections in pregnant women. If you are pregnant and think you have a vaginal yeast infection, make sure to talk to your doctor before using any product.

Examiner: If yeast infections are recurrent should sexual partner be treated?

Moyer: Vaginal yeast infections are usually not sexually transmitted. However, if your partner has a rash, itching or discomfort in the genital area, a doctor should be contacted to find the cause of the symptoms. The doctor should be informed that you are treating a vaginal yeast infection with Monistat.

Examiner: Is it ok to treat yeast infection during menstrual cycle?

Moyer: Yes, Monistat can be used during your menstrual period. In fact, many women get vaginal yeast infections just before their period because of hormone changes. Using Monistat during your period will not affect how well the product works. If you get your period in the middle of treatment, complete the treatment as you normally would. As mentioned earlier, do not use tampons while using Monistat because tampons may remove some of the drug from the vagina (use deodorant-free sanitary napkins or pads instead, and change them often).

Examiner is not a medical doctor nor does the website diagnosis. If you are experiencing symptoms, please visit your medical provider for an accurate diagnosis.

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