The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first oral antifungal drug, called Vivjoa, to specifically treat recurrent vaginal yeast infections. The administration said in a report that the drug could help stop recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis (RVVC) for people « who don’t have reproductive potential. » According to US Bureau of Women’s Health.
A vaginal yeast infection is extremely uncomfortable and disruptive as it can lead to itching and burning of the vulva (the area around the vagina), pain when urinating, pain during intercourse, and thick vaginal discharge. A yeast infection develops when the fungus candidiasis, that exists naturally in the vagina, grows excessively. Pregnant women are more likely to have recurrent yeast infections. people who shower regularly or use vaginal sprays; people who have recently taken steroids, antibiotics, or high estrogen birth control; immunocompromised people, such as those living with HIV; or people with uncontrolled diabetes. The drug should be taken two days in a row; 14 days after the first dose, it should be taken once a week for 11 weeks, according to Mycovia Pharmaceuticalsthe creator of Vivjoa.
The average vaginal yeast infection can usually be treated with over-the-counter antifungal medications, such as Monistat or Vagisil, both of which are vaginal creams. The antifungal fluconazole (Diflucan), a one-time tablet, is often prescribed to treat yeast infections, although some people may become resistant to the drug over time, according to the Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention (CDC). Suppositories, which are inserted into the vagina, are also sometimes used to treat yeast infections.
Historically, people with recurring vaginal yeast infections haven’t had great treatment options. “Prior to its approval, FDA-approved treatments on the market were only indicated for the treatment of acute infection,” Horrible. S. Millheiser, MD, FACOG, NCMP, says SELF. « This endorsement is important because, although uncommon, recurrent yeast infections can be very distressing to an individual and negatively impact overall quality of life. »
As we mentioned earlier, Vivjoa is only available to certain people who have been diagnosed with RVVC because it is not recommended for people with « reproductive potential ». Animal studies have shown that the drug can potentially cause fetal harm if you become pregnant while taking the drug. According to the FDA, the drug is only recommended for people who are biologically female and postmenopausal or permanently infertile due to tubal ligation, hysterectomy, or other factors.
Oteseconazole, the active ingredient in Vivjoa, inhibits fungal growth that causes yeast infection and has been specially designed to treat recurring infections. In two global studies, 93.3% and 96.1% of people with RVVC who were treated with Vivjoa did not experience a recurrent yeast infection nearly a year after taking the drug, compared with 57.2% and 60 .6% of people who received a placebo. Through the FDA three clinical trials conducted prior to approval, a total of 580 people aged 18 to 44 with RVVC were treated with Vivjoa for three months. Adverse effects were not common: 0.2% of people treated with Vivjoa reported allergic dermatitis (an allergic reaction that results in an uncomfortable rash) and less than 2% experienced headaches and nausea . (While these are the most common side effects, the FDA says others are possible, so it’s important to have this discussion with your doctor before going ahead with the drug.)
If you’re not sure if your yeast infection situation warrants a drug like Vivjoa, talk to your primary care physician or gynecologist to see if it might be right for you. You shouldn’t have to put up with constant symptoms. So it’s important to advocate for the care you need and deserve by exploring all of your options.