Will Eating Yogurt Help Stop Vaginal Yeast Infections?

Yogurt may help your yeast infections, or it may not.
masahiro Makino / Getty Images

Question: I tend to get a lot of yeast infection. I've heard that probiotics may help so will eating yogurt get rid of my vaginal yeast infections?

Answer: Vaginal yeast infections are common -- most women get at least one at some point during their lives, but currently, there isn't enough research data to know if eating yogurt will prevent or help treat them.

Yeast infections are due to an overgrowth of Candida -- a fungus that normally lives in the vagina but only in small amounts.

Yeast infections can be very irritating and uncomfortable.

Yogurt contains probiotics or 'friendly' bacteria that help keep micro-organisms balanced in your large intestine, so some experts believe yogurt helps keeps things balanced in the vagina as well -- both for yeast and bacteria. 

But, the few research studies don't answer your question. 

Lab studies have indicated that lactobacilli (a strain of probiotic found in yogurt) can inhibit the growth of Candida cells and prevent them from sticking to vaginal wall cells. But your vagina isn't a test tube, and eating yogurt isn't the same as applying to the vaginal walls either, so this isn't enough information to make a clinical call.

A few clinical studies have indicated potential positive benefit -- for both Candida and bacterial vaginosis sufferers, but they were small, not all well-controlled and often of very short duration. 

It will take more studies to know for sure, one way or the other.

So if you think you may have a yeast infection, or if they frequently happen to you, it's time to speak with your health care provider. He or she can help you with evidence-based treatment and prevention.

Sources:

Falagas ME, Betsi GI, Athanasiou S. "Probiotics for prevention of recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis: a review." J Antimicrob Chemother. 2006 Aug;58(2):266-72. 1.  Accessed April 11, 2016. http://jac.oxfordjournals.org/content/58/2/266.long.

Hilton E, Isenberg HD, Alperstein P, France K, Borenstein MT. "Ingestion of yogurt containing Lactobacillus acidophilus as prophylaxis for candidal vaginitis." Ann Intern Med. 1992 Mar 1;116(5):353-7. Accessed April 11, 2016. http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=705341.

Natural Medicines. "Probiotics (Bifidobacterum, Lactobacillus,Saccharomyces boulardii)" Accessed April 11, 2106. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/.

Office on Women's Health - U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "Vaginal Yeast Infections Fact Sheet." Accessed April 11, 2016. http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/vaginal-yeast-infections.html.

Senok AC, Verstraelen H, Temmerman M, Botta GA. "Probiotics for the treatment of bacterial vaginosis." Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009 Oct 7;(4):CD006289. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006289.pub2. Accessed April 11, 2016. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD006289.pub2/abstract.

Continue Reading