A vaginal yeast infection (vaginal candidiasis) is caused by an overgrowth of a fungus that naturally lives in your vagina, called Candida albicans.
This overgrowth triggers irritation, inflammation, itching, and painful discharge. Most women experience a yeast infection sometime during their lifetime.
If this is your first time experiencing the symptoms of a yeast infection, you should visit a gynecologist to verify that you actually have a yeast infection and not something else.
But if you have recurring yeast infections, talk to your doctor about other safe ways to try to treat a yeast infection or perhaps prevent reoccurrence.
Some of these remedies use ingredients that you might already have in your home. Their effectiveness varies, and evidence for their success is mostly anecdotal.
The Mayo Clinic mentions that some complementary therapies might provide some relief combined with your doctor’s care.
Keep reading to find out about some popular home remedies for yeast infections.
Probiotics can be effective against C. albicans.
Yogurt can be considered a probiotic because it contains live bacteria, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus. These bacteria are essential to creating a healthy environment in your vagina. They can help treat an overgrowth caused by an imbalance.
Confirmed in a 2017 study, eating yogurt helps increase the gut microbiome and can reduce yeast in the body. If you don’t like yogurt, then take probiotics. Probiotics are best taken with food.
Plain Greek yogurt is the best kind to use for this home remedy. Make sure that the yogurt doesn’t contain added sugar, which fuels growth of the Candida fungus.
Boric acid is a powerful antiseptic that some women claim is useful for treating yeast infections that are resistant to other remedies.
Topical boric acid is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as treatment for vaginal infections. Boric acid vaginal suppositories may also be used with medications to treat vaginal infections.
Boric acid is toxic in large amounts. It can lead to kidney damage, acute failure of the circulatory system, or death if you absorb enough of it. To avoid this, don’t use boric acid on broken skin and don’t take it orally.
If you’re pregnant, you should not use boric acid in any form.
For those with sensitive skin, this may not be a good choice. Discontinue use if any discomfort begins
Essential Oil of Oregano
Common oregano, or Organum marjoram, is what you usually find in your grocery store’s spice section. The oil of oregano used to treat yeast infections isn’t the same type, however.
Oil of oregano is a natural blood thinner, so don’t use it (diffused or topically) if you take blood thinners for another health condition. Also don’t use it if you have blood-clotting issues, such as from a vitamin K deficiency.
Remember: Essential oils should not be taken orally. They’re meant to be inhaled as part of aromatherapy. While some studies are examining other ways to use oregano essential oils, at this time it’s recommended that you use it diluted in a carrier oil, such as olive or sweet almond oil.
To use: Mix 3-5 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil. Then, apply it to the skin in massage. It can also be inhaled through a diffuser. Do not apply this essential oil near your vagina.
Probiotic Suppositories and Supplements
Probiotics help restore the bacteria-yeast balance throughout your body.
If you start a regimen of oral probiotics that contain strains of the Lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria, you can bring your digestive tract and vaginal flora back into alignment. Eating yogurt is one way to increase probiotics.
Oral supplements take about 10 days to reach full effect, so some women use probiotics as vaginal suppositories to see results more quickly.
Probiotic suppositories have also been shown to be effective for treating vaginosis, according to Harvard Health.
Coconut oil is a fatty oil derived from the flesh of the coconut. The oil has many health benefits, including antifungal properties.
Studies have shown that coconut oil is effective against C. albicans, making this home remedy one of the few with strong evidence that it actually works.
To treat a vaginal yeast infection using coconut oil, be sure to buy pure, organic coconut oil. You can apply the oil directly to the affected area.