If you have had a previous vaginal irritation and are certain your present symptoms are the same as they were during that previous infection, self-treatment with a nonprescription medication may be effective. Follow the directions on the box or package insert.
If you decide to use a nonprescription medication for a vaginal irritation, follow these tips:
* Be sure your symptoms indicate a yeast infection before you begin self-treatment. Symptoms of a yeast infection can be similar to those of other vaginal infections.
* Several nonprescription medications may be effective in curing the infection, such as clotrimazole (for example, Gyne-Lotrimin), miconazole (for example, Monistat 7), and butoconazole (Femstat 3). Use these products as directed.
* Use sanitary napkins instead of tampons while you are using nonprescription vaginal medications. Tampons can absorb the medication.
* Drinking acidophilus milk or eating yogurt with live lactobacillus cultures on a regular basis may have some benefit in preventing vaginal yeast infections.
* Avoid excessive cleaning of the vaginal area.
* If sexual intercourse is painful, avoid it or use a water-soluble lubricating jelly (such as K-Y jelly) to reduce irritation.
* If the genital area is swollen or painful, sitting in warm water (in a bathtub, not a hot tub) may help.
Report your symptoms to your health professional if:
* You are not sure that you have a yeast infection.
* Your self-treatment is not working after one complete course of therapy.
The risk of self-treatment is that your symptoms may be caused by a type of vaginal infection other than a yeast infection, such as bacterial vaginosis or a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Nonprescription treatment can be tried for vaginal itching and irritation, but if pelvic pain, fever, or burning with urination are present, evaluation by a health professional is needed.
It is important to be evaluated for vaginal symptoms if you are pregnant. Some vaginal infections, such as bacterial vaginosis, gonorrhea, or chlamydia, may increase your risk of complications during the pregnancy.
Women who take the blood-thinning medication warfarin and use a nonprescription vaginal irritation medication, such as Monistat, may have increased bruising and abnormal bleeding. Talk with your health professional before using a yeast-fighting medication if you take warfarin.
If you have risk factors for an STD, discuss your symptoms with your health professional before using a nonprescription medication.