Chronic Yeast Infection

An estimated 75% of all women are likely to develop vaginal yeast infections sometime during their lives, and about half of these women probably will experience recurrent episodes. Studies have shown that there is a simple and effective source of relief from this troublesome infection—Boric Acid Suppositories.

Usually caused by the yeast Candida albicans, yeast infections typically are treated with oral antifungal medications (e.g., fluconazole) or topical antifungal medications (e.g., miconazole and clotrimazole). Boric acid suppositories inserted into the vagina also have been used for yeast infections. In one study of 92 women with chronic yeast vaginitis that had failed to respond to treatment with over-the-counter or prescription antifungal medicines, 98% of the women found relief by using boric acid capsules vaginally, twice per day for two-to-four weeks.

Causes

A one-cell fungus, Candida albicans normally lives in the vagina, mouth, and digestive tract as a “friendly” fungus that causes no symptoms of active disease. For a number of reasons, however, candida may overgrow and change from a harmless one-cell fungus into long branches of yeast cells called mycelia. This condition is known as candidiasis.

The causes of candidiasis are wide ranging. They include:

  • Changes to the vagina’s normal acidic environment from pregnancy, contraception, menopause, and other hormonal factors.
  • Diet, especially too much sugar. Diabetic women often suffer from chronic yeast infections because of their blood sugar levels.
  • Other health factors including stress, fatigue, anemia, allergies, and low thyroid levels.
  • Antibiotics, which kill not only harmful bacteria but also the friendly bacteria that live in the vagina to ward off infection.
  • Immune deficiency. HIV infection, steroid drugs, radiation, and chemotherapy can compromise the body’s natural immunity, leaving the vagina prone to yeast development.
  • Menstruation. The warm, moist conditions that menstruation provides encourage yeast growth.
  • Regular douching or use of vaginal sprays, tampons, panty liners, commercial bubble baths, nylon underwear, and nylon tights.

Symptoms

Classic symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection include severe itching of the external and internal genitalia and a white discharge that may resemble cottage cheese. Other symptoms may include swelling, redness, and irritation of the outer and inner vaginal lips, painful sex, and painful urination due to irritation of the urethra.

Treatment

Oral antifungal medications such as fluconazole or topical antifungal preparations such as miconazole and clotrimazole, inserted into the vagina as a cream or suppository, typically are prescribed to treat yeast infections. Boric acid, a chemical with mild antiseptic, antifungal, and antiviral properties, is another option. In one study of 92 women with chronic yeast vaginitis that had failed to respond to treatment with over-the-counter or prescription antifungal medicines, 98% of the women successfully treated their infections with 600 mg boric acid capsules inserted into the vagina twice per day for two-to-four weeks.1 Other studies have shown cure rates of 92% to 100%.2 One woman who tested HIV positive found no relief from symptoms of candida vaginitis after nine months of using fluconazole, at 100 mg daily. Subsequent use of 600 mg of boric acid as vaginal suppositories and 5% lanolin ointment alleviated symptoms within 24 hours. Use was continued for 10 days and followed up with a two-to-three-day course of boric acid treatment during three relapses in the following five months. Long-term use of topical boric acid is considered less toxic, less expensive, and more readily available and just as effective as oral prescription antifungal agents. A study that followed 22 women who used either oral itraconazole or topical boric acid for one year found no statistically significant differences between the two groups in terms of positive culture results (15.1% vs. 12.1%, respectively), signs and symptoms (33.3% vs. 24.2%, respectively), or number of relapses.3 Boric acid is available from pharmacies in powder form and can be packed into empty gelatin capsules for use as suppositories.

Cautions

Boric acid suppositories should not be used during pregnancy and is very toxic if taken orally. It should be kept out of children’s reach. No serious side effects have been reported from the use of boric acid as a treatment for vaginitis.

1Jovanovic R, Congema E, Nguyen, HT. Antifungal agents vs. boric acid for treating chronic mycotic vulvovaginitis. J Reprod Med 1991;36(8):593-7.
2Shinohara YT, Tasker SA, Successful use of boric acid to control azole-refractory candida vaginitis in a woman with AIDS. J AcquirImmune Defic Syndr Hum Retrovirol 1997;16(3):219-20.
3Guasohino S, De Seta F, et al. Efficacy of maintenance therapy with topical boric acid in comparison with oral itraconazole in the treatment of recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2001;184(4): 598.