How Probiotics Can Help Your Yeast Infection

A yeast infection is caused by the overgrowth of a yeast called Candida. Candida is a normal part of the vaginal microbiome, a collection of microorganisms in the vagina. Bacteria keeps yeast in check. When this balance gets thrown off, a yeast infection occurs.

How Common Are Yeast Infections?

Approximately 75% of women will experience a vaginal yeast infection at least one time in their lives.

Research has shown that probiotics may support the natural balance of your microbiome and help with yeast infections. Probiotics contain bacteria that can help restore the balance of the vaginal microbiome. However, more research is needed to support this benefit.

Probiotics are found in fermented dairy products and foods, such as yogurt and kimchi. They also come in the form of supplements and suppositories.

a woman drinking a probiotic drink

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Do Probiotics Work?

The probiotic strains Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus (LGR-1) and Lactobacillus reuteri (LRC-14) have been shown to inhibit the growth of Candida glabrata, a strain of Candida that can cause yeast infections.

However, probiotics have not been shown to be able to alleviate yeast infection symptoms or prevent recurrent yeast infections on their own.

A study compared the effectiveness of the antifungal medication fluconazole with that of the probiotics Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus gasseri in treating recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis, vaginal and vulval symptoms caused by yeast.

The 12-month cure rate for women with yeast infections was 89% when using combination fluconazole-probiotic treatments and 70% when fluconazole was used alone.

This remains an active, ongoing area of research. More research is needed to determine the efficacy of probiotics in treating yeast infections.

The most studied probiotic strains today are LGR-1 and LRC-14.

How to Use Probiotics

There are different types of probiotics and different methods for using them.

Oral Probiotics

Oral probiotics are capsules taken by mouth and come in a wide array of options. Make sure you choose a supplement that includes LGR-1 or LRC-14, which have shown efficacy in helping with yeast infections.

Vaginal Suppositories

Vaginal suppositories are medications that are inserted directly into the vagina using a special applicator. This allows the medication to be absorbed quickly.

The vaginal suppository EcoVag is one example of a probiotic vaginal suppository. It was used in a clinical trial to assess the efficacy of probiotic-fluconazole vs. fluconazole-only treatments for recurrent yeast infections.

Yogurt

Eating yogurt regularly to help with yeast infections has not been scientifically proven, and such claims have been the subject of numerous warnings issued by the Federal Trade Commission for deceptive marketing.

When to Expect Results

Vaginal suppositories may work faster than oral probiotics. Oral probiotics may be helpful in preventing recurrent yeast infections, while vaginal suppositories are intended for more serious or acute cases.

You will see the number of probiotics in a particular supplement listed as “colony-forming units,” or CFUs. This is the number of probiotic strains in the supplement at the time it was produced.

Your time-to-results depends on multiple factors, including your specific clinical history, the dose and quality of the probiotic strains in your supplement, and other factors. It is best to consult a healthcare professional when selecting the appropriate strain for your yeast infection.

Things to Know

Probiotics are generally safe, and bad reactions are extremely rare. However, some studies indicate that more research is needed to ensure total safety.

People with weakened immune systems should consult their healthcare provider before trying probiotics for their yeast infections. People who have had recent abdominal surgery should avoid probiotics unless otherwise instructed by their healthcare provider.

If you are pregnant or have uncontrolled diabetes, you should also see your doctor before using any form of probiotics regimen.

When to See a Doctor

Some symptoms indicate that you should no longer rely on probiotics to prevent or treat yeast infections. For more mild yeast infections, this includes symptoms that last for more than 10 days, a worsening of symptoms, a high fever, or recurring infections.

For yeast infections that start more aggressively or that may be accompanied by pain and intense discomfort, additional treatment options should be considered if there has been no sign of improvement within three days.

A Word From Verywell

Eating a balanced diet; avoiding scented products, cleansers, and douches to the vagina; wearing breathable cotton underwear; and maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle should normally help support a healthy vaginal microbiota. Sometimes, though, the microbiome can become unbalanced, and you may want to consider adopting a probiotic to help you recover from a yeast infection.

However, probiotics should not be used to treat serious cases of infection. Speak with your healthcare provider if your symptoms appear atypical or you have other health concerns, such as a sexually transmitted disease.

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