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Clotrimazole vaginal

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 3 minutes read

Clotrimazole is an antifungal medication and is used to treat common fungal infections like the organisms that cause vaginal thrush. Vaginal tablets are a way to treat the local area affected by inserting them directly into the vagina. Mycelex and Gyne-Lotrimin are branded versions of clotrimazole. Clotrimazole is available over the counter. Combination packs with clotrimazole cream are also available.

Doctor’s advice

How do I use the medication?

Clotrimazole tablets should be inserted into the vagina, as high as possible; this can be easiest by lying down with your legs bent slightly and using the applicator provided with the medicine.

Be sure to follow the directions on the package, or speak with your pharmacist if you are not sure how to use the product.

Because thrush can cause soreness, the general advice is to avoid sex until you have completed a treatment course. There is also a slight chance of passing it to your partner, although this is uncommon. Rubber contraceptives such as condoms and diaphragms can be damaged by vaginal clotrimazole, so if you are going to have sex, you should consider other contraceptive methods.

Speak to your doctor if your symptoms have not improved after 7 days. You can repeat the treatment course if thrush symptoms return. If you have had thrush more than twice in the previous 6 months, it would be best to speak to your doctor to discuss whether there are any other things you could be doing to avoid thrush.

How does it work?

Vaginal thrush is a fungal infection caused by a type of fungus called Candida. Clotrimazole kills this fungus by disrupting the production of important components needed for its cell membrane. This leads to a relief in thrush symptoms. Moisture in the vagina allows tablets to dissolve, releasing clotrimazole to treat thrush locally where the infection is.

Who should not take the medication?

Do not use clotrimazole if you have previously had an allergic reaction to clotrimazole or another ingredient listed in the medication. Clotrimazole is less effective during your period, so it is best to wait until your period has finished before using it.

You should speak to your doctor before using clotrimazole if you – are under 16 or over 60, are pregnant, or breastfeeding. It would be best to speak with your doctor if you have thrush symptoms for the first time or are not sure if you are suffering from thrush.

If you have had unprotected sex and have not had a recent sexual health test, now is as good a time as ever to speak to your doctor about getting a simple checkup.

Clotrimazole can interact with other medicines called tacrolimus and sirolimus. If you take any prescription, over-the-counter or herbal medicines, ask your doctor or pharmacist to check if they are safe to take alongside clotrimazole.

Are there any side effects?

Side effects can include lower abdominal pain, pelvic pain, and vaginal problems such as vaginal bleeding, itching, swelling, redness, discomfort, burning, and irritation. If you suffer from vaginal dryness, you may find undissolved tablet bits in your vagina the following morning.

As with any medication, seek urgent medical advice if any symptoms develop of an allergic reaction, such as a skin rash, shortness of breath, wheezing, or swelling of the tongue, mouth, lips, face, or throat.

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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