Dr. Barbara Hays is a board-certified Ob/Gyn in Sacramento, Calif. In our "Ask an Ob/Gyn" series, Dr. Hays answers questions readers have posted on the Healthgrades Facebook page. Q: "I'm pretty sure I have a yeast infection. What's the best way to clear it up?" A: Yeast infections are very common; most women will have at least one in their lifetime. They can be caused by so many different things that sometimes it's hard to pinpoint each individual case: pregnancy, diabetes, damp clothing, birth control, antibiotics, and even normal changes in your menstrual cycle can bring on an overgrowth of Candida fungus. Yeast infection symptoms include itching, burning, redness, swelling, and a white, thick, clumpy discharge; occasionally the discharge can be thick and yellowish, but this type of discharge should be checked with your doctor, in case it is some other type of infection. Fortunately, there are many treatments available, some over-the-counter (OTC) and some prescription, that can help resolve the symptoms in about a week or less. Your non-prescription options are a selection of antifungal ointments, creams, and vaginal suppositories in a drug class called the azoles. Look for these names on the label: Butoconazole Clotrimazole Miconazole Tioconazole Your prescription options include: Nystatin, a vaginal tablet Terconazole, in cream or vaginal suppository form Fluconazole, a single pill you take by mouth Pregnant and lactating women should talk to their doctor about the safest treatment, but avoid the oral tablet. Many women try at-home remedies for yeast infections, like applying essential oils, yogurt "popsicles," and garlic cloves to the vaginal area. However, the risk of irritating your sensitive tissues is greater than any clinical evidence that these remedies work. Boric acid does have research behind it, but it can be tough to figure out the dosage on your own, so again, stick with one of the medical treatments listed above instead. If you have recurrent yeast infections, you can discuss with your doctor ways to prevent them; boric acid is usually used in these situations, and your doctor can discuss dosage, method of use, and timing for this product. For comfort, you may want to try a sitz bath (soaking in lukewarm water) and not wearing underwear or pajama bottoms to bed. Also drying with cool air (hair dryer on cool or a fan) can help with symptoms. Avoid tampon use and intercourse until you feel better. If you aren’t sure about your symptoms, see your doctor before starting treatment. Many women misdiagnose themselves, when the culprit is really bacterial vaginosis or a sexually transmitted infection called trichomoniasis that requires prescription treatment. If you start treating with OTC medications, the exam by your clinician is not as reliable, as the medication gets in the way of the exam and testing. If you do try OTC treatment, and you still have symptoms by the end of a full week, you should make an appointment to be checked. If you have four or more yeast infections per year, you may have what's called recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis (RVVC). This should be confirmed by an exam and testing with your doctor. You and your doctor can figure out the treatment that works best for you.Have a question for Dr. Hays? Like Healthgrades on Facebook and tell us what topics you’d like to hear more about in future installments.