Have you ever been annoyed, itchy, and frantically wondering why your yeast infection won't go away? If that's happening to you right now, you're not alone. You might be unsure of what to do next, especially if you're struggling with the worst yeast infection symptoms out there — like vaginal burning, itching, and pain.
You've already tried the creams and Googled the heck out of yeast infection home remedies. Maybe you've even visited a doctor and asked for prescription yeast infection treatments. But you've still got symptoms, and they're stubbornly refusing to leave. In fact, they may be getting worse. So, why can't you kick that awful condition once and for all?
When a Yeast Infection That Won't Go Away Isn't a Yeast Infection
"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 might surprise you: It may not have been a yeast infection after all.
Instead, you might actually have lactobacillus overgrowth syndrome — a condition often mistaken for a yeast infection. It happens when levels of "good" lactobacilli bacteria in the vagina get too high — possibly due to increases in estrogen. Since lactobacilli produce lactic acid, this overgrowth makes the vagina too acidic, leading to itching, burning, and discharge — awfully similar to yeast infection symptoms. If you have lactobacillus overgrowth syndrome, it makes sense why yeast infection treatments may have worsened your symptoms: Many contain acidic ingredients.
How to Identify and Treat Lactobacillus Overgrowth Syndrome
As you can probably guess, it's extremely difficult for you to confirm lactobacillus overgrowth syndrome at home; that's why you need a medical expert to help you out. Your gynecologist can confirm the diagnosis with a culture. But even if it turns out that you have the condition, you'll be happy to know that the treatment is simple: Add two to four Tbsp. of baking soda — alkaline — to your bath and soak for 15 minutes twice a day. This can help 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.
Next, learn about some other surprising health issues that women are more at risk for than men in the video below: