To diagnose a yeast infection, your doctor may:
- Ask questions about your medical history. This might include gathering information about past vaginal infections or sexually transmitted infections.
- Perform a pelvic exam. Your doctor examines your external genitals for signs of infection. Next, your doctor places an instrument (speculum) into your vagina to hold the vaginal walls open to examine the vagina and cervix — the lower, narrower part of your uterus.
- Test vaginal secretions. Your doctor may send a sample of vaginal fluid for testing to determine the type of fungus causing the yeast infection. Identifying the fungus can help your doctor prescribe more effective treatment for recurrent yeast infections.
Treatment for yeast infections depends on the severity and frequency of your infections.
For mild to moderate symptoms and infrequent episodes, your doctor might recommend:
- 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.
See your doctor again if treatment doesn't resolve your symptoms or if your symptoms return within two months.
If your symptoms are severe, or you have frequent yeast infections, your doctor might recommend:
- Long-course vaginal therapy. Your doctor might prescribe an antifungal medication taken daily for up to two weeks, followed by once a week for six months.
- Multidose oral medication. Your doctor might prescribe two or three doses of an antifungal medication to be taken by mouth instead of vaginal therapy. However, this therapy isn't recommended for pregnant women.
- Azole resident therapy. Your doctor might recommend boric acid, a capsule inserted into your vagina. This medication may be fatal if taken orally and is used only to treat candida fungus that is resistant to the usual antifungal agents.
No alternative medicine therapies have been proved to treat vaginal yeast infections. Some complementary and alternative therapies may provide some relief when combined with your doctor's care.
Talk to your doctor about what alternative treatments for vaginal yeast infection may be safe for you.
Preparing for your appointment
If you've been treated for a yeast infection in the past, your doctor may not need to see you and may prescribe a treatment over the phone. Otherwise, you're likely to see a family medicine doctor or gynecologist.
What you can do
- Make a list of any symptoms you've had and for how long.
- Write down key information, including other medical conditions and any medications, vitamins or supplements you're taking.
- Avoid using tampons or douching before your appointment.
- Make a list of questions to ask your doctor.
Questions to ask your doctor
- Do I need to take medicine?
- Are there any special instructions for taking the medicine?
- Are there any over-the-counter products that will treat my condition?
- What can I do if my symptoms return after treatment?
- How can I prevent yeast infections?
- What signs and symptoms should I watch out for?
During your appointment, don't hesitate to ask other questions as they occur to you.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, including:
- What vaginal symptoms do you have? How long have you had them?
- Do you notice a strong vaginal odor?
- Have you ever been treated for a vaginal infection?
- Have you tried over-the-counter products to treat your condition?
- Have you recently taken antibiotics?
- Are you sexually active?
- Are you pregnant?
- Do you use scented soap or bubble bath?
- Do you douche or use feminine hygiene spray?
Oct. 30, 2018
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- Bope ET, et al. Vulvovaginitis. In: Conn's Current Therapy 2018. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2018. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Aug. 26, 2018.
- Vaginal yeast infections. Office on Women's Health. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/vaginal-yeast-infections. Accessed Aug. 26, 2018.
Yeast infection (vaginal)