We've all been there: Annoyed, itchy, and frantically wondering "Why won't my yeast infection go away?" but unsure of what to do about it. You've tried the creams, you've Googled the heck out of yeast infection home remedies. Maybe you've even visited a doctor and asked for a prescription medication. But you've still got symptoms, and they're relentlessly refusing to go away. In fact, they may be getting worse. So, why can't you kick that awful yeast infection once and for all?
Why won’t my yeast infection go away?
"Two weeks ago my vagina became itchy, red and inflamed, plus I noticed a thick white discharge," a reader wrote to our print magazine. "I figured it was a yeast infection and used an OTC treatment, but that made it worse. What gives?" The answer just might surprise you: It may not be a yeast infection at all.
You could have lactobacillus overgrowth syndrome, a condition that’s often mistaken for a yeast infection. It occurs when levels of “good” lactobacilli bacteria in the vagina get too high, possibly due to increases in estrogen. Since lactobacilli produce lactic acid, the overgrowth makes the vagina too acidic, leading to itching, burning and discharge. This also explains why the yeast treatment worsened your symptoms: Many contain acidic ingredients.
When will my yeast infection go away?
How do you know if you have lactobacillus overgrowth syndrome or a yeast infection — and more importantly, when can you expect to feel better? Your gynecologist can confirm the diagnosis with a culture. Fortunately, treatment is simple: Adding 2 to 4 Tbs. of baking soda, which is alkaline, to your bath and soaking for 15 minutes twice a day can raise the vagina’s pH and nix the overgrowth. If your symptoms return about a week before your period, when estrogen levels naturally rise, experts suggest repeating the treatment.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.