I am a family doctor, by day, and women’s health and gynecology are loves of mine. Among other things, I treat yeast, bacterial vaginitis and other itches, irritations and infections “down there” all day long in practice. I can imagine how frustrating it might be to suffer from these issues while away from home, and definitely, when out of the country. The best advice, if you’re ill, is to see if there’s a clinic or travel doctor (i.e., on a cruise ship) available to examine and assess you. Unfortunately, that may not always be an option in many instances.
The good news is, in general, it’s easier to get medications over the counter in most countries than it is in the U.S. I’ve visited Mexico and was tempted to pick up some Penicillin, Diflucan and Levaquin just because it was there and readily available without a prescription. You never know when you might need it, right? Well, be cautioned. If you don’t need them, or you’re not sure, don’t just take these meds, because super-bacteria and antibiotic resistance are at an all-time high (Are you familiar with MRSA – Methicillin-resistant Staph Aureus?)
However, if you happen to be in Mexico or Canada, and are pretty sure you have yeast (white, cottage cheese-like discharge and/or itching) for a number of days, you could go to a local store and try to find Diflucan and take one tab. The generic name for this is Fluconazole, which will be easier to find. The cream or topical version is Monistat or generic Miconazole. I found other names as alternatives listed, and the list was very long. For future reference, though, some other names I saw included Candistat and Dermizol.
For bacterial vaginitis (or vaginosis), most women experience a cloudy or thick-white or yellow discharge with an obvious “fishy” odor with or without itching. If traveling, you can find Nidagyl (for Flagyl) or Clindamycin over the counter in other countries.
Urinary tract infections (U.T.I) & Others
For symptoms of urinary tract infections, diarrhea or abdominal distress, Levaquin (Levofloxacin) or Cipro (Ciprofloxacin) may be helpful. For pain control, Tylenol (Acetaminophen), Advil/Motrin (Ibuprofen) and good old Aspirin can always be found.
If you’re a chronic sufferer, a smart move would be to see your primary care provider before leaving and ask and fill a script for medicine before leaving. Only take it though if symptoms occur, and not proactively, to avoid bacterial resistance. If you have significant allergy issues or have a history of anaphylaxis, it’s smartest to travel with your Epi-Pen (epinephrine) and make sure it’s not expired.
Here are some other prevention tips to consider to decrease common infections when traveling:
- Increase your intake of probiotics and prebiotics may be very helpful, as well, to prevent common urinary and vaginal infections. (Some have even mentioned the intravaginal use of plain white yogurt as a prevention, but you didn’t hear that from me.)
- Drink plenty of water and cranberry juices and try not to hold your urine for too long, if you can help it.
- Take your own cleaning or wet wipes and change of cotton undies with you to cleanse yourself if you’re out walking and sweating a lot.
- No douching—ever.