Women buying wrong yeast infection remedies: study

Nearly half the women who buy over-the-counter yeast infection remedies are buying the wrong medication according to a new study.

According to researchers at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, many women have different disorders, or none at all, which they have mistaken for a yeast infection.

A study tracking 95 women in five cities over the course of two years found only a third, 34 per cent, actually had a yeast infection.

Scientists say women are diagnosing themselves and going out to buy what they think is the right medication

"Ready access to these products is associated with wasted finanical expenditures...and a delay in the correct diagnosis," says Dr. Daron Ferris who headed the study. Ferris is a professor in the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The study is published in the March issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

According to the researchers, of the women who bought remedies:

  • 19 per cent had bacterial vaginosis, the most common vaginal infection
  • 10.5 per cent had other types of infections
  • 2.1 per cent had trichomonas vaginitis which is sexually transmitted
  • 14 per cent had no infection at all

"Half of the women bought a product they didn't need to buy," says Ferris, who recommends women see their doctors before buying medication.

He says women who have had yeast infections in the past are likely to have the correct self-diagnosis. Others should be more cautious.

"Yeast infections are not the most common type of vaginal infections," says Ferris. "It's like the flu. Everybody says they have the flu when most of the time you really don't have the flu. You have a virus but not the real influenza."

Ferris says there are too many products on the market. He says sales of yeast infection treatments have tripled since the U.S. Federal Drug Administration approved over-the-counter treatments a decade ago.

Part of the reason for that is that many of the infections share the same symptoms: abnormal discharge, itching and irritation.

It's estimated one out of five women in Canada suffers from yeast infection.