Does Garlic Actually Treat Yeast Infections?

Vaginal yeast infections are pretty common. About 70% of women experience it at some point in their lives.

Yeast infections — also called candidiasis — are caused by a fungus from the Candida genus (a group of species). These yeast cells exist naturally within your vagina, but an imbalance of other good bacteria can cause the yeast to multiply. This can cause severe itchiness and burning in and around the vagina, redness, and cottage cheese-like discharge.  

Effective antifungal treatments are available for the condition, but many people also try alternative therapies such as yogurt, vinegar, or garlic pills.

While some studies have shown the potential of garlic as an effective yeast infection treatment, there’s not enough evidence to support using garlic to get rid of yeast infections. The CDC also notes that using unapproved therapies can result in delayed treatment and misdiagnosis of your condition.

Here’s what to know about garlic for yeast infections—and what to do if you get those annoying vaginal and vulvar symptoms.

Close up of garlic capsules on wooden table.

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What Is a Vaginal Yeast Infection?

When the natural balance of your vaginal bacteria changes, a fungus type called Candida—normally present in small amounts—can grow too much, causing a yeast infection. 

Some common symptoms of a yeast infection include:

  • Severe itchiness in and around the vagina — the most common symptom
  • Burning, swelling, and redness of the vagina and the vulva
  • Pain when urinating and during sex
  • Soreness
  • Thick, white, and odorless discharge that can look like cottage cheese

Some people are more likely to get yeast infections, including people who are pregnant, use birth control pills, have diabetes, or have recently taken antibiotics. 

Can Garlic Help With a Yeast Infection?

People have used garlic to treat infections for thousands of years because of its antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. 

Some studies have shown garlic’s potential as an alternative treatment for candidiasis. One 2015 study compared the effects of oral garlic tablets (Garcin) and fluconazole tablets and suggested that garlic tablets could be a good alternative for treating and reducing symptoms of yeast infections.

Another older study tested a vaginal cream containing garlic and thyme against the antifungal clotrimazole vaginal cream in people with yeast infections. Researchers found an equal decrease in most symptoms between the two groups.

However, there just isn’t enough information about garlic tablets and creams to replace conventional treatments. It’s best to consult with a healthcare provider before trying any at-home candidiasis remedy. 

Is it Safe to Use Garlic for Yeast Infections?

Even natural products like garlic can cause side effects and interact with your medications. Consuming garlic, especially when it’s raw, can cause body odor, heartburn, and upset stomach. 

And we don’t know much about the safety of garlic supplements or applying garlic to the skin in people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Garlic supplements can have the following negative effects:

  • Increase your risk of bleeding: This can be an issue if you take blood thinners such as Coumadin (warfarin) or need surgery.
  • Make some medications less effective: Including saquinavir, which is used to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection
  • Interact with some other dietary herbs or supplements

There are also risks to treating your yeast infection before getting a healthcare provider’s diagnosis:

  • You may misdiagnose your condition. Two out of three people who buy yeast infection medicine don’t have the disease. This can delay treatment of the actual problem, such as a sexually transmitted infection (STI) or bacterial vaginosis (another vaginal infection), which can be dangerous.
  • Over-the-counter treatments such as creams or suppositories are oil-based. They can weaken latex condoms and diaphragms, increasing your risk of pregnancy and STIs. 
  • If you use an antifungal treatment when you don’t have a fungal condition, your body can develop resistance to the medication. This can make it harder to address possible future yeast infections. 
  • Garlic can have unpleasant side effects and interact with some medications.

Make sure to get a candidiasis diagnosis from a healthcare provider before you proceed with any at-home treatment. If you’d like to try a garlic supplement for any reason, talk to a healthcare provider about your medical history and current medications. 

How to Prevent a Yeast Infection

There’s no sure way to prevent changes in your vaginal balance, but here’s what you can do to reduce your risk):

  • Don’t douche or use scented products in or around your vagina. 
  • Change tampons and pads often. 
  • Avoid wet or tight underwear, pantyhose, and pants. Cotton underwear can help keep you dry. 
  • Change out of wet swimwear or workout clothing as soon as you can. 
  • Wipe front to back after using the bathroom. 
  • Avoid hot tubs and baths.

A yeast infection is not considered dangerous, but the condition can have a significant impact on your daily life. Effective antifungal treatments are available over the counter: creams, tablets, ointments, or suppositories that you insert into your vagina.

If you’re not pregnant, a healthcare provider can prescribe you oral medication. And if you experience four or more yeast infections per year, they may recommend prolonged use of antifungal medication.

A Quick Review

Yeast infections are common, but they’re not the only cause of unpleasant vaginal and vulvar symptoms. People often mistake a more serious condition such as an STI for a yeast infection and try at-home therapy. This can delay proper diagnosis and treatment, which can be dangerous. And while some studies have shown garlic’s potential as an alternative remedy, it’s still an unproven treatment with possible side effects and medication interactions. 

If you experience itching or burning in or around the vagina, talk to a healthcare provider first. Getting medical help can be useful even if you’ve had candidiasis before. Effective antifungal treatments are available for people with one-time and repeat yeast infections.

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  2. Office on Women's Health. Vaginal yeast infections.

  3. Felix TC, de Brito Röder DVD, dos Santos Pedroso R. Alternative and complementary therapies for vulvovaginal candidiasisFolia Microbiol. 2019;64(2):133-141. doi:10.1007/s12223-018-0652-x

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC).

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaginal candidiasis.

  6. Ebrahimy F, Dolatian M, Moatar F, Majd HA. Comparison of the therapeutic effects of Garcin® and fluconazole on Candida vaginitisSingapore Med J. 2015;56(10):567-572. doi:10.11622/smedj.2015153

  7. Bahadoran P, Rokni FK, Fahami F. Investigating the therapeutic effect of vaginal cream containing garlic and thyme compared to clotrimazole cream for the treatment of mycotic vaginitisIran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2010;15(Suppl1):343-349.

  8. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Garlic.

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