Greek yogurt with fresh vegetables and fruits; dairy, combat constipation

Q. I have infrequent vaginal yeast infections, but I prefer not to use creams like Monistat. They were once prescribed by doctors and now are available over the counter, but I prefer a more natural approach.

I heard about douching with plain yogurt. I was a little squeamish at first, but have tried it and it works fairly effectively.

Is this a legitimate natural remedy? How does the medical community see it? Should I worry about recurrences?

A. Vaginal yeast infections (candidiasis) cause a great deal of discomfort and disruption. The primary symptom is an intense, almost unbearable itch. The yeast Candida is a normal occupant of the vaginal vault. Frequently, however, when women are given antibiotics, they will develop a vaginal Candida infection. The antibiotics have no effect on Candida, but they do seem to wipe out other occupants, and yeast cells rush to fill the vacancies. Oral contraceptives can have the same effect on some women.

There are lots of cures available, all of them likely to work at least temporarily. Monistat (miconazole), either as a cream or a vaginal suppository, usually gets the nod. Alternatives include other antifungals such as clotrimazole, butoconazole or ketoconazole. Cure rates are supposed to range from 80 to 90 percent, but recurrences are not uncommon.

Many women like you have been looking for more natural approaches. They have been douching with yogurt to treat yeast infections for decades. There are a number of websites that promote this practice and provide detailed instructions. That said, we have been hard put to find substantive studies to support this approach. One group of researchers at Sohag University in Egypt published the following article: “Bee-honey and yogurt: a novel mixture for treating patients with vulvovaginal candidiasis during pregnancy” in the Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics (online, Feb. 8, 2012). The conclusions:

“To the best of our knowledge, a mixture containing both Bee-honey and yogurt was used for the first time in the present study. The mixture produced a relatively high clinical cure rate which was even higher than that produced with the use of anti-fungal therapy (87.8 vs. 72.3%, respectively). On the contrary, the anti-fungal therapy produced a significantly higher definitive mycological cure rate. This paradoxical effect may seem astonishing and even illogic. However, the higher clinical than the mycological cure rate can be attributed to the inhibiting effect of the mixture on other organisms rather than the Candida albicans alone. The mixture produced a relatively high therapeutic efficacy against Staphylococci and Streptococci. Moreover, the anti-inflammatory properties of the honey may alleviate the problems of itching and redness thus improving some of the symptoms and signs of vaginal candidiasis.”

Unfortunately, this study was not randomized or placebo-controlled. The number of subjects was modest. We have been unable to find large-scale studies using yogurt as a douche.

Earlier studies have looked at whether women could reduce their risk of vaginal yeast infections by eating yogurt with live cultures. One old study (Annals of Internal Medicine, March 1, 1992) found that women eating Colombo brand yogurt with live Lactobacillus acidophilus cultures were three times less likely to develop a recurring infection.

A review of research concluded that although some studies have had promising results with probiotics such as Lactobacillus, the quality of the trials leaves a lot to be desired and more research is needed (Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, Aug. 2006).

One randomized, placebo-controlled double-blind study found that two Lactobacillus strains administered orally improved the vaginal flora in postmenopausal women (European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, Nov., 2008). Although the women in this study were given capsules, the probiotics used are commonly found in live-culture yogurt.

The Bottom Line on Yogurt for Yeast Infections:

Douching with yogurt is messy. Although it might be helpful for some women, the data are sparse. Eating yogurt with live cultures might be helpful and probably won’t hurt.

Share your own experience below. What has worked for treating yeast infections, and what has failed? Others may benefit from your story.

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  1. Ann

    I had a diagnosed yeast infection that was cured with one tablet of prescribed fluconazole (a generic version of Diflucan). It took about four days for a complete cure. About six months later, I had the same symptoms, a thin, light tan discharge, that I tried unsuccessfully to treat with daily yogurt douches. This time, I went to an immediate care clinic where the nurse took a sample of vaginal material and sent it for testing. According to the tests (were they done right?) I had neither a yeast infection nor a bacterial vaginitis but they gave me fluconazole again. The first pill made no difference so they gave me another six days later. The discharge is greatly reduced — went through a whole day with no discharge — but there’s still a drop or two two weeks later that burns and itches. Don’t know what to make of the lack of diagnosis or how long I should wait before seeing a gynecologist. Any ideas? (PS. I’m a senior citizen who hasn’t had a sexual partner for years.)

  2. Debra

    I have had an issues with feminine itch and severe redness on my lady parts (no odor) for several months and on and off for years. I have used everything from Monistat, nystatin, hydrocortisone and prescription medications for what was diagnosed at a yeast infection. The itch was maddening and would wake me from a sound sleep, returning quickly even after a shower (I use soap for sensitive skin with no perfume).

    I had not gotten away from eating yogurt, but had purchased some for my Mum, and one evening I was looking for something to snack on. Literally, within minutes of eating it, the itch disappeared, I mean totally gone. A few days later I began to have a bit of an itch starting again, so again I ate some yogurt, and again gone. I now eat some daily and have been itch free since. Amazing…I have been fighting this for so long and now what a relief…

  3. Terri

    I’m 60 and don’t get full on yeast infections but I get smelly down there now and then. I’ve realised it’s from eating starches or having a few beers… As I’m not quite ready to start gluten free, I recently started using the yogurt douche. I’ve always eaten it and also take probiotics… The douche worked so well!!!!

    My guess is I over produce yeast and I will eventually have to do gluten free. There friend who told me to try this also said that if you use a flavor…vagina will smell pretty and even aged a bit of extra lube for us older girls! …. Let the dating begin ?

  4. Alyssa

    Hi All. I am still getting over a UTI when I started to have yeast infection symptoms. Oh no… not another thing to make my vagina super unhappy with me. I get reoccurring UTI’s but with the current one I am taking antibiotics for and the yeast infection mix it is the most uncomfortable pain I have yet to experience. With my first yeast infection a few years ago I tried the pain yogurt injection and it did wanders. This time it isn’t working so well. Monistat does nothing for me but make me feel more uncomfortable. I need to get all this to be gone! it is really ruining my chance TTC. Thank you for any advice or tips to get this yeast away from my Va-jj.

  5. Petunia

    I’m 33wks pg-with a yeast infection-itch-burn-didn’t have Monistat on hand late at night miserable-so I syringed about 10 ml of plain Greek yogurt into my vag. It hasn’t all drained out yet due to Greek being thicker-and pg women are not advised to douche?

    Okay to just leave it be til it comes out by itself? I don’t believe it wld hurt to stay up there but maybe? Please comment


    I loved the conversation and its very relieving to find that most women out there have experienced the same problem I am encountering now, hence, it gives me a lot of courage to attend the matter at hand and not be secretive about it. Thanks!

  7. Amber

    Hi, so on Monday, I went to see my dr and he said that I have a double yeast infection. ive never had one before so didn’t know what to expect. He proscribed me two pills one was pink and I was suppose to take one this week and the 2nd pink one next week, but I didn’t know that till I talked to the nurse yesterday. im also on another pill that I have to take twice a day.

    I called the dr office yesterday cause I have been in the worse pain the past few days and having a hard time sleeping cause of the pain. so they proscribed me the cream, well the cream is only at night time, I did get to sleep but it still hurts and burns when I pee. How long till the pain goes away and how long does this last??

    • Terry Graedon

      Check with the doctor’s office again and let them know you are still having symptoms.

      • corrin

        every nite, use a round head syringe to put as much yogurt as u can get up there 10-30ml or more if u can, then plug the vagina with a tampon. it works like nothing else on earth- got to be plain unsweetened natural live yogurt like yeo valley if ur in the UK. use it- few studies will ever tell u about this- they’re ultimately funded by drug companies. use it! i suffer from auto immune conditions & thrush ruined my sex life for yrs. yogurt u can use over and over, no ill effects. eat it, douche with it, keep good weight, low GI diet & sleep!!!

    • Nicole

      Sounds like you have a UTI, not a yeast infection.

  8. Anonymous
    North Carolina

    I’ve used the yogurt method because I’ve had excessive discharge and then it started to itch badly. One application up the vagina gave me instant relief from the itching and the second application is just to make sure all the bacteria is gone. I’m not one who gets vaginal infections often but the plain yogurt no sugar or fruit and it has to say it had active bacteria the label. It worked for me hopefully it will work for you too.

    • Nikki

      Yes the yogurt with live bacteria works! The store bought creams caused me to itch and burn. I read about the yogurt and to my surprise instant relief!

    • Amanda

      Did the yogurt ever come out? I used a tampon case and filled it with yogurt like I read to, I inserted it into my vagina and there was instant relief. The only thing is, nothing ever dripped out or came out when I peed. It’s been in there a good 7-8hrs.

    • Tanisha

      Did you mix it with anything…water, honey?

  9. Bokamoso

    Ive been bleeding for a long time and my discharge have a bad smell once i start going to the toilet,what can i do to stop this

    • Terry Graedon

      You need to see a health care professional for proper diagnosis and treatment!

    • Mya

      Which brand did you use?

  10. Jaime

    Got my first yeast infection about a week ago. It started with intense itching with intermittent painful urination and thick white discharge. After trying ACV drinks to get rid of it, I bought Monistat-1 thinking it’d clear it up quickly, but I was SO wrong! I inserted it 3 days ago and the Monistat has done nothing but itch/burn like hell…I don’t even know if it’s curing the discharge because the discharge has seemed to intensify and get “chunkier” (sorry, TMI) since I used it. After searching around for natural YI cures, I’ve stumbled on the yogurt method, so I’ve just packed 2 tampon applicators w/ Fage 0% and will try one overnight…hoping for some relief.

    I’m following that up with 1/4 cup yogurt taken orally, probiotics I’m gonna go buy, and a baking soda drink to kill the bacteria *fingers crossed* I’ll report back once I see some change.

  11. Mareece

    I tried No Hair removal cream on my bikini area and experienced two rashes at the side it’s very itchy and when I scratch it leaves red scratch marks. Did anyone experienced it? What can I use to treat it?

  12. Mickey

    I have been having infection for the past 8 years while I was still a virgin it will itch and swallow that won’t be able to walk I have bbeen to the Doc several times but no improvement the only hope my doc had was to book me for papsmear it goes away when school closed,I went for papsmear and last doc prescribed me diflucan it helped for 2 years and came back again,until I stopped taking all the medicine and started using plain yoghurt I insert inside and put some on my pantyline,I believe sometimes this is also worsen by the kind of sanitary pads we use ,public toilets and some condoms.

  13. Renata

    This is my second yeast infection. With the first one I had bad itching, redness and swelling (using generic antibiotic). This time I have no other signs but a white lumpy discharge without odor. I have not had intercourse taken any antibiotics or any other melds, I’m not diabetic, might be pregnant though. I’m eating yogurt and drinking a shot glass of lemon/lime juice mixed in a cup of water once a day. Seems to be working for me.

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