Dealing with a vaginal infection can be challenging, especially when you’re a teenager. You might think you are alone when you start noticing symptoms down there or that you did something wrong. Spoiler alert: You didn’t and you’re not alone.
The vagina is a self-cleaning organ and takes care of itself without special sprays, soap, or cleaning tricks. Instead, it uses good bacteria that:
- Outnumbers harmful bacteria
- Maintains the pH (acidity) balance of the vagina
- Produces a natural source of antibiotics (bacteriocins) to destroy harmful bacteria
- Sometimes the balance of good bacteria is compromised, and harmful bacteria takes over. This can be caused by:
- Irritants (soap, douching, perfume, tight-fitting clothing)
- Unprotected sex
Vaginal infections are a common problem for girls and women of all ages. In fact, up to 75% of women will experience at least one vaginal infection in their lifetime. Fortunately, most vaginal infections are easy to treat and go away after one treatment. But what about when they don’t?
If you have symptoms that return four or more times within a year, you might have a chronic vaginal infection. If this sounds like you, you should ask to make an appointment with your doctor right away.
Chronic vaginal infections can result from:
- Poorly treated initial infection
- Drug-resistant strains of yeast
- Frequent antibiotic usage
- Health conditions (Diabetes, poor immune system)
- Using vaginal “cleaning” products like douches
- Moist environment (Tight clothes, synthetic fabrics)
Now that you understand what causes chronic vaginal infections, let’s look at how to treat it. Luckily, there are a few options available that have been shown to be successful in treating chronic vaginal infections, whether they are caused by an abundance of bacteria or yeast. We’ll look at them in detail below:
1. Boric acid suppositories
Boric acid might sound scary, but it has been used for over 100 years to treat vaginal infections. It has antifungal and antiviral properties and has been effective against chronic vaginal infections like Bacterial Vaginosis and yeast infections caused by yeast strains Candida albicans and Candida glabrata.
You won’t need a prescription from your doctor to buy boric acid suppositories and you can make them yourself, but for safety, we recommend purchasing premade capsules from a reputable source.
We also recommend consulting your doctor or trusted adult for help determining the right dosage and length of treatment. The typical treatment is 600mg of boric acid taken intravaginally for two weeks, but it could vary depending on the symptoms you are experiencing.
2. Multi-dose oral medication
After going over your medical history and symptoms, your doctor might prescribe an antifungal oral medication like fluconazole (Diflucan) or ketoconazole (Nizoral) to be taken in two to three doses.
This has been effective for treating chronic vaginal infections and is often the first course of action when dealing with a chronic vaginal infection.
3. Long-term treatment
Sometimes doctors recommend a longer treatment plan depending on the severity of the infection or symptoms. This includes up to two weeks of daily antifungal medication followed by a weekly treatment lasting six months.
Don’t be embarrassed, it’s more common than you may realize! Don’t be afraid to talk to a doctor if this problem persists, but there’s a good chance you’ll be able to get it sorted out on your own. There’s no shame here, okay?