DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Three weeks ago I developed vaginal discharge and itching. I told a friend, and she said she had the perfect medicine for a yeast infection. I bought it, but it’s not doing a thing for me. How do you get a yeast infection, and what’s the best medicine for it? – R.P.

The yeast candida is only one of the big three causes for vaginal discharges and vaginal itching. Women, when on antibiotics, often get a yeast infection because the antibiotic can kill off lactobacillus, a normal inhabitant of the vagina and one that acts like a policeman. Lactobacillus keeps the vagina on the acid side, which checks the growth of candida and of troublemaking bacteria. When the lactobacillus population diminishes, the yeast population burgeons. Antibiotic use is only one way to come down with candida infection. Candida produces a thick, white discharge that looks like curdled milk. Most often, the discharge has no odor. Itching is a problem. A number of creams, vaginal tablets and vaginal suppositories can usually get rid of the infection. Some names are Mycelex, Gyne-Lotrimin and Nystatin.

A second common cause of vaginal discharge and itching is bacterial vaginosis – an infection with a mishmash of bacteria. The discharge produced is thin, white-to-gray and foul-smelling. Oral Flagyl or clindamycin (an antibiotic) cream is used to eradicate it.

The third common cause is trichomonas (TRICK-oh-MOAN-us), a one-celled organism, usually sexually transmitted. The man often has no symptoms. It produces a copious, yellow discharge. Oral Tindamax is prescribed for it. The male partner should also be treated to prevent reinfection, even if he has no symptoms.

I made this sound like it’s a snap to diagnose these infections on the basis of the discharge; it is not. The only reliable diagnosis is a microscopic examination of the discharge, which entails a doctor visit.

The booklet on vaginal infections gives more information on this common problem. Readers can obtain a copy by writing: Dr. Donohue – No. 1203, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6.57 Can. with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am a 43-year-old woman with Crohn’s disease, pernicious anemia and iron deficiency anemia. For the past three years, I have had a high protein count in my blood.

What causes high protein in blood? My doctor is not sure. – T.K.

Albumin and globulin are the two main blood proteins. Albumin is made by the liver. It serves as a truck to transport many body products, such as hormones, and nonbody products, like medicines, through the circulation. It also keeps fluid in the circulation.

Globulins are made in other places. One of their big functions is to serve as antibodies, the body’s artillery against germs.

Multiple myeloma (bone marrow cancer), rheumatoid arthritis, infections, Hodgkin’s disease (lymph node cancer) and leukemia can raise the globulin part of blood protein. After three years, it would be impossible to have one of these illnesses without at least one of their dramatic signs. Iron deficiency anemia can also do it.

Dehydration causes albumin increase. It’s unlikely that you have been dehydrated for three years.

If the rise is only a small one, it might not have any significance.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am a 21-year-old college student who is averagely endowed. I see lots of ads claiming to enhance the male member. Do they work? How about surgery? – L.M.

Before investing any money in these products, ask the manufactures for proof of their effectiveness. If it’s only glowing testimonials, don’t buy them.

You have to talk to a urologist about surgery. One operation cuts the ligament that supports the penis. It adds length, but can bring trouble in stabilizing it during relations.

Average is fine.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have a question to ask you. I took of lot of chemistry in my schooling days. I know that when you mix two materials or liquids together, you come out with a third product.

With that in mind, what good does it do to take a number of vitamins and minerals all at once? How can each vitamin and mineral do its job effectively when it gets mixed with all the rest? Please explain. – J.D.

Mixing two or more substances together doesn’t always produce a third or cause a chemical reaction between the mixed substances. Vitamins and minerals are a good example of a multitude of substances living together as one big, happy family. They don’t fight with each other, and they don’t inactivate one another.

In nature, many vitamins and minerals come in a single food. They all get absorbed.

A lot of work goes into proving that vitamin-mineral combinations make their way into the blood.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from

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