Many women use yogurt to treat vaginal yeast infections. Is this home remedy backed up by scientific research? The answer is yes: studies support using yogurt to combat these infections.
Several types of yeast and bacteria can build up in the vagina. A yeast infection happens when one type of yeast multiplies too much. This yeast is a fungus called Candida.
In this article, we explain the science behind yogurt as a treatment for a vaginal yeast infection. We also discuss the most effective ways to use it.
Fast facts on using yogurt for a yeast infection:
- Yogurt is an alternative to the many standard treatments available.
- It is important to use plain, natural yogurt that contains Lactobacillus.
- Yogurt can be applied to the surface of the vulva or placed inside the vagina.
Use plain, natural yogurt that contains Lactobacillus. It is important that this yogurt includes no natural sweeteners.
The following methods may help to apply yogurt inside the vagina:
- Use the fingers to insert a scoop of yogurt.
- Fill an unused tampon applicator with yogurt and insert it.
- For cooling relief, freeze an unused, yogurt-filled tampon applicator before inserting it.
Applying yogurt to the vulva or into the vagina may soothe symptoms.
Some women prefer natural remedies for a yeast infection because:
- they are concerned about side effects from antifungal treatments
- they are worried about developing a resistance to antifungal treatments
- a home remedy is more convenient or less expensive than medical treatments
Yogurt may be an effective remedy because it contains Lactobacillus bacteria. This healthful type of bacteria lives in the gut, urinary tract, and vagina without irritating these areas.
It is believed that using yogurt containing good bacteria restores a healthful yeast balance in the vagina. Lactobacillus releases hydrogen peroxide, which kills Candida, combatting infection.
Applying cold yogurt may also sooth itching or burning sensations.
A combination of yogurt and honey worked well as an alternative to antifungal treatment in pregnant women with vaginal yeast infections, according to a 2012 study.
Another study suggested that therapeutic effects of yogurt may be more effective than clotrimazole (Canesten), an antifungal cream.
The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database classifies yogurt containing Lactobacillus as a "possibly effective" treatment for yeast infections.
It is important to note that evidence supports the use of yogurt for internal or topical treatment, as opposed to dietary use.
A 2006 review found that probiotics, microorganisms that provide health benefits to their host, have shown promise in preventing yeast infections. However, it concluded that more research is needed before probiotics can be recommended as treatment.
Plain yogurt that contains Lactobacillus and no natural sweeteners is an effective treatment.
Other kinds of yogurt tend to contain added sugar. Using this will likely make the infection and symptoms worse because sugar causes yeast to multiply.
Also, while yogurt is effective, it may not provide relief as quickly as traditional antifungal treatments.
Many women prefer to use plain yogurt as an alternative to standard antifungal tablets, creams, or suppositories.
When a healthful balance of bacteria and yeast is disrupted, too much Candida will grow, causing a yeast infection.
The following factors can disrupt the vagina's natural balance:
- hormonal changes
- having sex
- perfumed body or feminine washes
- changing tampons infrequently
- wearing underwear that is too tight
While sex can sometimes lead to an overgrowth of Candida, a yeast infection is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
Symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection include:
- an itchy or burning sensation in the vagina
- thick, white, clumpy discharge
Vaginal yeast infections are common, treatable, and not usually a cause for concern.
It may be difficult to identify this infection when experiencing it for the first time, and it is essential to seek a professional diagnosis. A doctor can also advise people who experience frequent yeast infections or those that do not improve with treatment.
However, people who have continued pain or other vaginal symptoms may want to arrange a sexual health screening. All sexually active people should be screened for STIs regularly.