Q: I have a recurring vaginal yeast infection. I was wondering if men could also carry the infection and if my husband could be reinfecting me during intercourse.
A: Recurrent vaginitis, particularly yeast infections, are unfortunately very common. Occasionally yeast infections can be passed back and forth between partners. If there is a case where we think we are seeing a “ping-pong effect” it’s treatable for both partners. Fortunately there is now a drug available in oral form called diflucan which is quite effective as a one dose therapy. So now I can conveniently treat both my patient and her partner, prescribing one pill for each one of them, to try to stop this back and forth passage.
You can occasionally see a similar problem in treating bacterial vaginitis. Unfortunately, the treatment takes a week of oral medication called metronidazole, but sometimes treating both partners for a week will do the job.
Of course we also consider the possibility of underlying medical conditions leading to the recurrence problem. If a woman is having intractable yeast infections, it will be checked her for diabetes. Rarely, HIV infection will present this way, so will rule that out as well. But don’t worry – the vast majority of these women are just unlucky, with a predisposition for vaginitis.
I have mentioned this before, but I think it is worth mentioning again. One homehelpful remedy is eating yogurt with live cultures, or swallowing acidophilus pills from the health food store. By recolonizing the intestines with good bacteria, you reduce the carriage of the organisms that create infections. You can also apply the yogurt or acidophilus vaginally, which can be very soothing, and can help to locally recolonize the tissue with healthy flora. And remember, yeast loves carbohydrates – reduce your intake of sweets.