Ditch the Itch

Photography by: Mark Lund
Ditch the Itch

The key to success in fighting a yeast infection is knowing you have one in the first place; the discomfort may be mild enough to overlook, and several other conditions have similar symptoms. A recent study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology found that only about 34 percent of women who think they have a yeast infection actually have one. "That means 66 percent of those women would be wasting their time and money treating themselves with an over-the-counter yeast preparation," says OB-GYN David Plourd, M.D., spokesperson for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

If the problem isn't yeast, it could be one of these common culprits:

BACTERIAL VAGINOSIS--Caused by an overgrowth of "bad" bacteria (such as Gardnerella vaginalis, Ureaplasma urealyticum, or Mycoplasma hominis) in the vaginal canal, this condition may be characterized by a grayish-white discharge and a strong fishy odor. It can be treated with antibiotics or by restoring good bacteria to the vaginal canal by using yogurt or probiotic supplements.

TRICHOMONIASIS--This sexually transmitted parasitic infection is caused by single-cell organisms called protozoa. Symptoms include vaginal irritation, pain during intercourse or urination, a yellowish-green discharge that can appear foamy, and a strong odor. Trichomoniasis must be treated with prescription medication, most commonly the drug metronidazole (aka Flagyl).