At-Home Remedies for Yeast Infections: Five That Really Work

Vaginal yeast infections are one of the most common – and most unpleasant – maladies that plague girls and women. Almost every woman gets at least one vaginal yeast infection in her lifetime, and 5-10 percent get them more frequently than four times a year. While they are common, they are very uncomfortable. The symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection vary from woman to woman, but most complain of itching, soreness, and redness in the vaginal area, including a white discharge that resembles cottage cheese. This infection makes sexual intercourse painful, and can be passed to a male partner. While yeast infections usually don’t result in any more serious illness, most women are eager to get relief and a cure as soon as possible.

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What causes yeast infections? An imbalance between good bacteria and yeast spores. There are good bacteria that are meant to live in the vagina, such as lactobacillus. Common things that kill off this bacteria and allow yeast to proliferate are antibiotics, hormonal fluctuations caused by pregnancy or birth control pills, having diabetes, a compromised immune system, or having a lot of sex which can throw of the acidity/alkalinity balance and make yeast more likely to grow.

Up until about 20 years ago, one must visit a doctor to treat a yeast infection by medication means. Now, anti-fungal creams and suppositories are available over the counter, but they are expensive and many women experience vaginal irritation with them, including mild to severe burning sensation.

But the good news is there are ways to treat a yeast infection at home, and better yet, prevent them in the first place. However, if you get yeast infection symptoms for the first time, don’t just assume it is yeast. It’s better to go to a doctor and get properly diagnosed because bacterial vaginosis has some of the same symptoms as yeast infection, but needs treated with antibiotics, which, ironically, may then cause a yeast infection. If you have been diagnosed with yeast infection before and have the same symptoms again, it’s likely safe to treat yourself. However, if it doesn’t improve after a few days, you should visit the doctor to make sure it is yeast.

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According to Bustle, there are multiple ways to treat a yeast infection at home. Many of them involve balancing the acidity of your vagina and controlling how much flora is present.

  1. Apple cider vinegar is a strong acidic cleanser. The acidity is kind to your vagina if your pH has become too basic. It can kill bacteria, viruses, and protozoa and balance your Ph level, which works as apreventative and as a treatment. However, because of it’s strong acidity, it can cause painful burning if used undiluted as douche. Always cut with water or pour apple cider into your bath water.
  2. You can buy probiotics that, in pill form, become little warriors against bad bacteria. Available over the counter, they help prevent and cure a vagina that is too alkaline. You can buy them as regular pills you swallow, but probiotic suppositories have also been shown to prevent and treat chronic yeast infections. Eating yogurt may help too, but a probiotic capsule is much stronger.
  3. Garlic. The peeled cloves of a garlic bulb can be placed in the vagina as a suppository. It’s normal for it to temporarily burn, but that soon fades. If it doesn’t, discontinue use.
  4. Tea tree essential oil is a natural anti-fungal and antibacterial agent, which means it can help yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis. Some women find relief from dipping a tampon in diluted tea tree oil and inserting it overnight.
  5. Stop the Sugar. Unfortunately, yeast feeds off sugar (which includes alcohol). Eliminating excess sugar from your diet can starve the yeast and put you Ph back to normal.

[Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images]