As a woman, you likely have many things on your to-do list from grocery shopping and taking care of your family to furthering your career. While a vaginal yeast infection might be the last thing on your mind, you should learn the common signs and symptoms so that you can find treatment if it does occur. Most women do get yeast infections at some point in their lifetime. Thankfully, they are easily treated.

Do You Have a Vaginal Yeast Infection?

You might not have realized it, but every healthy woman will naturally have some yeast cells in her vagina. Normally, the presence of good bacteria alongside the yeast cells will keep a healthy balance of the two.

However, a yeast infection happens often when the bacteria and yeast cells become unbalanced. The yeast can then grow out of control, resulting in infection. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 3/4 of all adult women have had a yeast infection at some time in their lives.

Once you have an infection, you may experience one or more of several symptoms. These include an intense itch, swelling, a burning sensation during urination or sex, pain during sex, soreness and redness.

Many women will also see a white discharge that may look clumpy or watery. While you should seek treatment right away, you can relieve symptoms quickly once you start the treatment. In most cases, you’ll find relief within just a few days.

Getting Treatment

If you suspect that you have a vaginal yeast infection, you can choose to set up an appointment with a doctor or treat the infection at home. Either way, remember to use protection during intercourse until you have properly treated the yeast infection. While doctors don’t consider a yeast infection an STI, it can be spread through sex, making this precaution necessary.

Medical Treatment

By going to your doctor, you can expect a pelvic exam as well as a possible blood test if you have a severe or recurring infection. Your doctor may also send a test swab to a laboratory.

In most cases, the doctor will prescribe one of several treatments: an antifungal suppository, cream, or pill. His recommendation may be a prescription or over-the-counter medicine, and you will probably need to use the treatment for several days.

If you have a severe yeast infection, you may need even longer treatment, up to several weeks. In this case, be sure to follow up with your doctor and let him know if you’re still experiencing any symptoms.

Home Treatment

On the other hand, you might choose to treat the infection strictly with over-the-counter medications. You should only use this option if you suspect a mild infection, opting for professional oversight with any severe symptoms.

Here are a few common and safe over-the-counter treatments for a vaginal yeast infection:

  • Antifungal cream

You can easily buy non-prescription antifungal creams from a local pharmacy or drugstore. Normally, these will come with an applicator and specific instructions to use the cream for a single day or up to one week.

  • Coconut Oil

Another common store-bought item, coconut oil has proven that it has many antifungal properties. To use it for yeast infection treatment, simply apply it topically. Make sure that you use a pure, organic oil since many coconut oils on the shelves are actually an impure blend.

  • Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is an essential oil that has shown to kill fungi and bacteria. You can easily find an over-the-counter suppository at your local pharmacy.

Home Treatment: What NOT to Use

While you can use several home remedies, some treatments for a yeast infection may not be safe. Be sure to consult your doctor before pursuing any home treatments.

  1. Boric Acid

Boric acid has strong antiseptic properties that make it efficient for fighting severe infections. However, boric acid can lead to a fatal poisoning if you’re exposed to large amounts. In addition, boric acid can also cause birth defects in unborn children.

2. Oil of Oregano

While you may still be able to use this home treatment, you should understand its blood-thinning properties. Do not use this remedy if you’re already taking blood thinners or have difficulty with blood clotting.

3. Douching

Some people advise douching in order to clean and refresh the vaginal area. However, this remedy has not shown to work for yeast infections and may actually remove more healthy bacteria from the infected area. In general, avoid this practice altogether.

Overall, you can easily get treatment for a vaginal yeast infection and relieve symptoms quickly. Whether you choose a prescription treatment or home remedy, you will want to consult your doctor, especially if the infection is severe or recurring. While the symptoms may be a mere annoyance, you should take care of any issues right away. In doing so, you’ll be keeping yourself healthy and infection-free for more important everyday activities.