Probiotics for Yeast Infections
In recent years, as probiotics have come into the spotlight as allies in healthcare, recommendations to use other forms of probiotics to prevent yeast infection have flooded the healthcare world. Probiotics are live microorganisms that benefit the body, particularly the intestinal tract and the vagina. The itching and misery of a yeast infection, the result of fungus from the Candida family overgrowth in the vagina, can drive a woman crazy. These infections can be temporary, or in some cases, chronic, coming back month after month, year after year. History shows that for centuries women have used yogurt, a classic source of probiotics, to soothe these overgrowths. Now probiotic pills for yeast infections are available and can be ingested orally or even used as a suppository. But there are also specific suppositories for vaginal use, which may be more comfortable and effective. Check the expiration dates on the packaging as these living organisms do have a shelf life and because the dead bacteria will not help in the fight against yeast.
The Probiotic Balancing Act
Looking at the fact that the reason for yeast infections is, at the most basic level, an imbalance in the flora of the vagina, it seems quite reasonable to ask “Are probiotics good for yeast infections?”
The answer is that efforts to restore balance in the body’s microbiota through the use of probiotics will be beneficial overall and may specifically help fight a yeast infection. However, it can take several weeks before a significant relief of symptoms occurs, so patience and perseverance are needed. A common trigger for yeast infections is antibiotic use. What happens is that the antibiotic attacks both the bad bacteria (the reason the antibiotic is needed in the first place) AND the good bacteria that populate the intestinal tract and the vagina. This can set off a chain reaction: infection, antibiotic, yeast infection – a cycle which can continue and cause the yeast to become entrenched. One strain of beneficial bacteria in the form of Lactobacillus acidophilus pills, yeast infection fighters, can be particularly helpful not only for a yeast infection, but also for enhancing the immune system (needed to resist all infections) or mitigating other conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and diarrhea. Taking probiotics will help replenish the natural balance of good bacteria a body needs while taking an antibiotic.
Can Probiotics Cure Yeast Infection?
One important thing to note is that if a woman has not previously had a yeast infection, she should visit her doctor to confirm that this is what she has before deciding on a course of action. There are other conditions that have similar symptoms and it is critical to know the diagnosis before attempting a remedy. If there is a yeast infection, a doctor will likely prescribe a course of antifungal medication in the current absence of overwhelming clinical evidence that probiotics can effectively repress a yeast infection. There is some speculation that taking a probiotic at least two hours after a dose of antifungals may boost their effectiveness. Scientists are still undecided on the role of probiotics in a cure. Some small studies indicate positive benefits, while the conclusions of other studies remain skeptical. Some doubt that a probiotic on its own will completely cure such an infection, especially if it is entrenched; however, the use of one or more varieties of probiotic, consistently applied or consumed, will lead to overall better flora in the intestines and vagina and can contribute to improved health.
Learn more about how probiotics may help fight or reduce yeast infections.