Debunking Myths That Can Disrupt Your Vaginal Health
By Dr. Taraneh Shirazian, OB/GYN and Monistat Ambassador
For years, vaginal wellness was a taboo topic, but now, more than ever, people are starting to embrace the conversation – which has in turn led to an uptick in the social media chatter. From viral videos floating around showing different “challenges”, to a community of content creators giving their advice on how to treat issues, the line between fact and fiction when it comes to vaginal health and treatments is starting to become blurred.
As an OB/GYN, many would be surprised at the number of times patients ask me about “treatments” they’ve heard about from friends or family, or that they saw trending on social media. When it comes to social media, it is important to remember that viral videos and challenges may pop up on your feed, but tried and true health tips from medical professionals will help keep you safe and healthy in the long run. At the end of the day, the goal is to get the best outcome and to safely treat your infection.
Everything that itches is not always yeast
If you start to feel symptoms such as itching or irritation in your vaginal area, your first reaction might be to search online for answers. Before heading down a rabbit hole of content, pay attention to where you notice the itching and if it’s associated with unusual discharge. (Discharge is usually normal, but unusual smell and/or textured discharge should be an alert.) Vaginal itching can mean many things. It can also be internal, external or both. Be aware of all your symptoms that come along with itching, as different symptoms can lead to different infections. While you might be tempted to do a quick search on social media to see what your symptoms mean, you could end up with a false diagnosis.
Itching is a symptom that can indicate a variety of underlying causes. Depending on your age, the causes can be very diverse and include vaginal dryness, an allergic reaction, scabies (a condition caused by mites) or yeast. Pay attention to when you notice the itching and if there are any changes to products or anything you place in or on the vagina. If you are unsure about what your symptoms mean, you can check out the MONISTAT® Symptom Checker to see if you might have a yeast infection or other vaginal infection.
If you are noticing a thick cottage cheese-like vaginal discharge along with internal itching, it is most likely a yeast infection, and you can try treating it to see if the symptoms improve. If you’ve been diagnosed with a yeast infection before and believe you have one again, you can start a course of MONISTAT®, and if it doesn’t resolve within a week, then you should seek a medical appointment.
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Complete your treatment regimen
When trying to effectively treat and eliminate a yeast infection, a pitfall that many women run into is when they stop the treatment early and fail to complete the entire treatment. Once people start to feel better after starting the treatment, they often stop using the medication. The problem with that is the infection can then stick around longer and may not completely go away. This can lead to recurrence of the same yeast infection. In this scenario, people often notice long, lingering infections that can take weeks to clear. Let’s nip it the bud and finish the treatment course!
With a product such as MONISTAT®, you should check the instructions on the box to ensure you’re taking the treatment for the correct amount of time. MONISTAT® 1 is a single-dose product that is available in Miconazole ovule and Tioconazole ointment form. The Miconazole ovule can be administered day or night while the Tioconazole ointment is best for at night use. Whether you choose the Miconazole ovule or Tioconazole ointment form, the full dose should be taken in one day. MONISTAT® 3 is a 3-day option that comes in ovule, cream and suppository forms. This treatment should be taken over the course of three consecutive days. MONISTAT® 7 is a 7-day, low dose option and comes as a cream. It should be taken over seven days without breaks in between or stopping. While you should be taking each product for the proper amount of time listed on the packaging, all MONISTAT® products can take up to seven days to fully cure a yeast infection.
If you’re unsure of which product to use, check out the MONISTAT® Product Selector Tool.
When you start to feel symptoms of a vaginal infection, you might be looking to find a quick solution. While it might be easy to find an at-home “remedy” online, you may end up causing more harm than you will find successfully treating your infection with an over-the-counter drug treatment.
I get asked daily about natural remedies that people use at home to correct vaginal infection and change in odor. While these remedies may not seem risky, they can complicate vaginal infections more than you think. I have heard of people using coconut oil, garlic and yogurt, as well as other food items to cure yeast infections. While it may seem like a simple solution, it might not lead to the result you are looking for!
When a yeast infection is present and the delicate vaginal pH has been disrupted, natural remedies might not be as effective as a 1-, 3- or 7-day MONISTAT® treatment. Home remedies may not fully clear the infection and could leave you searching for solutions. It is best to treat a yeast infection early and locally by treating it with an antifungal medication such as MONISTAT®.
Another DIY “treatment” that has been recently getting talked about online is probiotics. While I do think probiotics are great as a natural way to help address the pH balance of the vagina, they cannot take the place of treatment when you have a yeast infection. Probiotics are great to take regularly to help keep your body running smoothly, but if you start to feel symptoms of a yeast infection or other vaginal infection, I suggest seeing your doctor or other healthcare professional if the symptoms are new, or heading to your local drug story to pick up MONISTAT 1-, 3-, or 7-day treatment if you know you have a yeast infection.
Social media remains a wonderful place to get the word out about vaginal wellness and start an educational conversation amongst the larger community, but always be sure to do your research, check in with your doctor and choose a reliable product when treating any type of infection in such a sensitive area.