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Expert Advice: I Can’t End My Recurrent Yeast Infections. Should I Try a Prescription Drug?

Many different things can cause them — from birth control pills to antibiotics.

Suffering from constant irritation of the vulva and vaginal canal? Chronic yeast infections are no joke — and they happen when the conditions in your body promote yeast growth. Unfortunately, many women suffer from these infections and can’t eliminate them completely. One of our readers wrote in to discuss the issue with our expert gynecologist, and she suggested trying a new prescription drug on the market.

Meet our expert.

Barbara DePree, MD, is a gynecologist in private practice and director of Women’s Midlife Services at Michigan’s Holland Hospital. A Certified Menopause Practitioner, she is the founder of MiddlesexMD.com, an educational resource for women’s sexual health in perimenopause and beyond. To ask her a question, send an email to health@firstforwomen.com.

Help for Chronic Yeast Infections

Q: My recurrent yeast infections are impossible to treat, and they’re disrupting my sex life. I’ve tried all the creams, but the infections always return. I read about a new prescription drug that can stop them. Should I try it?

A: You’re not alone! These fungal infections — and the vaginal discharge, itching, and burning during sex or while urinating that they can bring — affect 9 million women in the United States. To blame? Everything from birth control pills and hormone therapy to antibiotics and uncontrolled diabetes. Complicating matters: Certain strains of fungi, such as Candida albicans, the one responsible for most yeast infections, can become resistant to the standard treatments, such as over-the-counter antifungal creams or suppositories.

The new oral medication recently approved by the FDA is Vivjoa, the first treatment designed to treat recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis (RVVC). This antifungal drug is more effective than current antifungal treatment options because it’s less likely to cause antifungal resistance while still killing fungal growth. Although it’s not a quick fix (the medication must be taken for three months), 96 percent of women with RVVC using Vivjoa were free from recurrent infections for nearly a year. (Note: The medication isn’t recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.)

Other smart strategies you may want to consider to help restore healthy vaginal pH levels and protect against future yeast overgrowth: 1) reducing your intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates (yeast’s favorite food); 2) avoiding douching and scented vaginal products that can disrupt the microbial balance and supplementing with a daily probiotic.

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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