Can Yogurt Be Used to Treat a Yeast Infection?

Vaginal yeast infections — known as vaginal candidiasis— occur when there’s an overgrowth of a microscopic fungus called Candida in the vagina. This overgrowth leads to inflammation and uncomfortable symptoms like itching, burning, vaginal discharge, and pain.

Fortunately, yeast infections can be easily treated with either over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription antifungal medications. But some people still prefer to use natural remedies for this common condition, like yogurt. Even though some yogurt-based treatments may be helpful for this condition, there are a few things to consider.   

Here’s what you need to know about using yogurt for yeast infections, including possible benefits and risks, and whether or not this home remedy is worth trying. 

A close up of Greek yogurt

wilatlak villette / Getty Images

Yeast Infections and Yogurt: Does It Work?

The most effective, evidence-based way to treat yeast infections is by taking antifungal medications. But some people may try using home remedies instead.

Yogurt is said to be helpful for yeast infections because it’s high in probiotics, live bacteria that are good for you. The thought is that introducing probiotics to your vagina can help treat yeast overgrowth and restore its natural environment—some people may even use tampons soaked in yogurt or apply yogurt to their vagina using their fingers in an attempt to treat these infections. However, this is not recommended.

Even though some yogurts are high in probiotics that can keep your digestive system and vagina healthy when regularly consumed as part of a healthy diet, there’s limited evidence that topical or vaginal yogurt treatments are effective for treating yeast infections.

A 2015 study found that an antifungal vaginal cream and a treatment involving inserting a mixture of yogurt and honey into the vagina for seven nights were similarly effective for treating yeast infections. The yogurt mixture was found to be more effective for relieving some yeast infection symptoms, like itching.

A small 2013 study of 24 women—17 of whom had HIV—found that women who ate probiotic-rich yogurt for 15 days had lower amounts of Candida fungus in certain parts of their vaginas compared to women who ate yogurt without added probiotics.

However, the Office on Women's Health says that there’s not enough evidence to support the use of yogurt treatments for vaginal yeast infections. This means that you shouldn’t use yogurt in place of evidence-based, safe treatments like antifungal medications.

Risks and Concerns

Though you may think that using a natural product like yogurt to treat a yeast infection is harmless, it can actually lead to serious side effects in some cases. 

If not properly treated, yeast infections can worsen, which can prolong uncomfortable symptoms and even lead to body-wide infections.

Using yogurt topically or inserting it into the vagina to treat a yeast infection can irritate the mucous membranes that line the vagina and may cause an allergic reaction.

If you’re considering an alternative treatment for yeast infections like yogurt, it’s important to get advice from your healthcare provider first. They can tell whether or not the treatment is safe and help answer any questions you may have. 

How to Use Yogurt to Treat a Yeast Infection

Even though a few research studies suggest that yogurt might have some benefits for yeast infections, experts do not recommend using topical or internal yogurt treatments in place of antifungal medications.

But there are other ways to use yogurt to support vaginal health. Eating probiotic-rich foods like high-quality yogurt with live and active cultures as part of a nutritious diet is a smart way to promote healthy vaginal microbiota—the community of microorganisms in the vagina. 

Regularly eating yogurt that contains live probiotics can support a healthy vaginal environment, which may help prevent yeast infections. Taking a probiotic supplement is another way to introduce beneficial bacteria into your diet. 

Other Treatments and When to See a Healthcare Provider

Typically, yeast infections are treated with antifungal medications. Your doctor will recommend an OTC antifungal product or prescribe a medication to help treat the infection and relieve your symptoms. 

For vaginal yeast infections, antifungal medications are either applied inside the vagina or taken orally. Your doctor will decide the best treatment based on factors like the severity of the infection.

Common medications for vaginal yeast infections include: 

  • Fluconazole
  • Boric acid
  • Nystatin
  • Flucytosine

Keep in mind that fluconazole should be avoided if you’re pregnant as it could lead to birth defects. 

It’s important to never self-diagnose a yeast infection and always visit a healthcare provider if you’re experiencing symptoms like itching, pain, or burning in the vaginal area. 

Other medical conditions—like sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and bacterial vaginosis—can mimic yeast infection symptoms, so it’s important to get the right diagnosis and appropriate treatment. 

If you have a yeast infection that’s not getting better or if you’re experiencing recurring yeast infections, contact your healthcare provider. You may need a different medication or a higher dose of medication in order to successfully treat your yeast infection. 

A Quick Review

Some women use alternative treatments like yogurt to help clear yeast infections, but there’s not enough evidence to support using yogurt in place of antifungal medications. This is why experts advise against using at-home remedies like yogurt-soaked tampons for vaginal yeast infections.  

If you’d like to use yogurt to support vaginal health, try adding a high-quality yogurt with live and active culture to your diet. 

But if you think you may have a yeast infection, skip the yogurt and make an appointment with your healthcare instead. 

Was this page helpful?
Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Office on Women's Health. Vaginal yeast infections.

  2. National Library of Medicine. Vaginal yeast infections (thrush): What helps?

  3. Darvishi, M, Jadhi F, Hamzegardeshi Z, Goodarzi S, Vahedi M. The Comparison of vaginal cream of mixing yogurt, honey and clotrimazole on symptoms of vaginal candidiasis. Glob J Health Sci. 2015 Nov; 7(6): 108–116. doi: 10.5539/gjhs.v7n6p108

  4. Hu H, Merenstein DJ, Wang C, Hamilton PR, Blackmon ML, Chen H, Calderone RA, Li D. Impact of eating probiotic yogurt on colonization by Candida species of the oral and vaginal mucosa in HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected women. Mycopathologia. 2013 Oct;176(3-4):175-81. doi: 10.1007/s11046-013-9678-4

  5. National Library of Medicine. Candidiasis.

  6. Lehtoranta L, Ala-Jakkolla L, Laitila A, Maukonen J.  Healthy vaginal microbiota and influence of probiotics across the female life span. Front Microbiol. 2022; 13: 819958. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2022.819958

Related Articles