That little itch could be telling you something

("I'm not yeast!")

By Lynn Harris
Published September 12, 2007 6:29AM (UTC)
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I realize this is asking for trouble -- "A blog about women's issues? What do they write about, yeast infections?" -- but consider it a public service announcement. You know when you're sure, 150 percent sure, you have a yeast infection, and you so totally don't have time for a doctor's appointment, which doesn't matter because you're so sure anyway, so you go to the drugstore and you thank the heavens above for over-the-counter Monistat? Or you call your doctor and you're so glad that she or he is "cool" enough to prescribe Diflucan sight unseen? Well, that's all well and good, except for the fact that no matter how "sure" you are, you're probably wrong.

"Everything that itches isn't a yeast infection," says Susan Hoffstetter, a nurse practitioner and assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology and women's health at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. According to her new research, in fact, nearly 75 percent of women who think they have a case of the yeasties do not. That's the good news. The bad news: They could thus wind up treating problems they don't have. Among the women she studied, most had symptoms that could also indicate inflammation, dryness or a sexually transmitted infection -- none of which is treated with the usual types of antifungal yeast-B-gone. So that "recurring" yeast infection could actually be nothing of the sort -- and it could be going untreated. So don't self-diagnose, tempting as it is; see a doc, Hoffstetter says. Sorry.

Lynn Harris

Award-winning journalist Lynn Harris is author of the comic novel "Death by Chick Lit" and co-creator of She also writes for the New York Times, Glamour, and many others.

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