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Research Center

How to Address Yeast Infections

01/23/2006

Question:

I have had a white discharge for about a year now. My doctor said that it was a yeast infection and all my other tests for STDs including HIV were all negative. I don`t have a lot of itching, but I tend to get edema after intercourse. I have been treated for a yeast infection multiple times, but it does not help. Is there something else it could be that is not traditionally tested by most doctors, or is there something you can recommend that may help get rid of the yeast infection?

Answer:

It definitely sounds like you have undergone a thorough evaluation. About 5% of women will have recurrent vaginal yeast infections. It is unknown why some women, like yourself, have these recur (other than having diabetes or HIV infection - you have been tested for these). A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2004 suggested that women taking Diflucan 150 mg every 3 days for 3 days, then 150 mg once a week for six months had a dramatic decrease in infections. This sounds like a good alternative to just treating the infections when they occur.

Very few studies have evaluated the effectiveness of eating yogurt as a treatment for vaginal yeast infections. One small study indicated that eating 1 cup of yogurt — containing active cultures of lactobacillus — a day may reduce the frequency of recurrent yeast infections in some women. Lactobacilli are harmless, or "good," bacteria that normally live in your vagina. Doctors once thought that recurrent yeast infections were caused by a deficiency of lactobacilli and that eating yogurt would correct the problem. But it's more complicated than that. If you have recurrent yeast infections, you may consider adding yogurt with live cultures (it should say "live cultures" on the container) to your diet to see if it helps. But more research is needed to evaluate the potential value of such yogurt in preventing and treating these infections.

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Response by:

W. Fred Miser, MD W. Fred Miser, MD
Professor of Family Medicine
Director of Ohio State Medicine Residency Program
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University