You might have heard that probiotic supplements can help ease an annoying yeast infection. But does it really work? We asked Health's resident medical expert to weigh in.
Yeast infections occur when there’s an overgrowth of yeast (a fungus) in the vagina and the balance of bacteria gets thrown off. So it might seem that consuming probiotics, which are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for you, could help restore the balance and clear up symptoms or prevent the infections.
Some studies have looked at whether eating probiotic-enriched yogurt or taking an oral supplement daily could protect against yeast infections, but so far there’s not enough proof that either one works. One small study suggests that using a probiotic suppository that is inserted into the vagina, in combination with antifungal medication, might help prevent yeast infections, but this still isn’t widely recommended.
Until more conclusive research is available, go the conventional route for preventing these infections. While it can be tough to pinpoint the cause, wearing breathable underwear, not using scented soaps in the genital area, and changing out of sweaty clothes right away can help keep the vagina infection-free.
Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.