Yeast Infections: Embarrassing Health Problem

Cynthia Dermody

cottage cheese in a bowlPeriodically we'll talk to a doc about an everyday health problem you'd never dream of discussing at the coffee shop. PM me if you want yours featured. (We'll keep it between us.)

Yeast Infections

Like garden soil, your vagina has to maintain a certain acid balance or bad stuff will grow there -- not weeds but the yeasty microorganisms that cause that itching, burning, and cottage cheese like discharge. I'm turning red just writing that.

Here's Dr. Jill Rabin, an urogynecologist at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York and author of Mind Over Bladder, with the prescription:

Hide It:

First of all, do NOT use feminine deodorant sprays. They may hide that giveaway yeast smell temporarily, but the propylene glycol will throw the vagina's Ph off even more and delay healing. The best way to disguise the odor is frequent showering and washing with a mild soap, like Dove or Cetaphil. Deodorant soaps are often too harsh. Douse with baby powder (without talc) or even baking soda.

Treat It:

If you have more than two a year, see your doc. Something's up and you need to figure out what lifestyle choices (too many carbs, perhaps?) may be causing them. You doctor may prescribe Diflucan, a one-pill treatment.

Otherwise, OTC products like Monistat or the generic equivalent usually work great.

If the infection is on the milder side, go for a 3 or 4 day course. If it's an extra miserable one, go for the full 7 days to really kick its butt.

  • Banish the thong -- that teensy string in your crotch rubs places you don't want back into the vagina.
  • Don't have sex until a week after the infection appears to be gone. I mean, who would want to, anyway?
  • Eat acidophiles or yogurt to help re-balance the flora and help repopulate the vagina with yeast neutralizing organisms.

Prevent It:

Besides taking antibiotics, certain habits can alter the vagina's Ph and cause infections.


  • Leave tampons in too long.
  • Eat too many carbs and sugar.


  • Drink cranberry juice and eat watermelon to prevent urinary tract infections, which often lead to yeast infections.
  • Use a mild soap to wash yourself. Some deodorant soaps are way too harsh.
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