The moment signs of a vaginal yeast infection make themselves known—nothing else matters...other than getting it gone.
The moment signs of a vaginal yeast infection make themselves known—the itch you discreetly get at by squirming in your seat, the gates of hell suddenly relocating to between your legs, and the clumpy discharge—nothing else matters...other than getting it gone.
A yeast infection, or candidiasis, is caused by a fungus called candida, and it loves dark, wet spaces like mouths, throats, and (you guessed it) vaginas. It’s totally harmless until it multiplies—that’s when trouble starts.
Apple cider vinegar has a reputation as a magical cure-all that will remedy everything from allergies to dandruff to… yeast infections?
A quick google search reveals plenty of blogs recommending yeast infection "treatments" such as apple cider vinegar baths, douching with apple cider vinegar, and even soaking a tampon in apple cider vinegar and inserting it.
We talked to some practicing gynecologists about whether apple cider vinegar actually works to remedy yeast infections. Here is what we have found out.
Fighting the fungi
Candida is a group of yeasts that can cause fungal infections in different parts of the body. There are more than 20 different types of candida, but Candida albicans is the most common cause of infection.
Candida normally lives in the body without causing problems. They can be found in the intestines and on a type of tissue called mucous membranes, which line the vagina and mouth.
Candida is an opportunistic fungus that can grow out of control in the right circumstances. An overgrowth of candida causes an infection with a variety of symptoms. In the vagina, candida infection is commonly known as a yeast infection.
So about apple cider vinegar...can, it clear up a yeast infection?
Some people seem to think so. Internet theories promoting the direct application of diluted vinegar, including douching with it and inserting a vinegar-soaked tampon are floating around out there just begging for investigation.
Is it a remedy?
Apple cider vinegar is a natural antibiotic. As its name indicates, it is acidic, which makes it helpful if your pH has become too basic. But, this does not mean you should put it on or in your vagina.
Despite what the internet might say, doctors agree that these home remedies to treat a yeast infection are no good. There are absolutely no home remedies to get rid of yeast infection, they note.
Apple cider vinegar – any vinegar, really – will kill some germs because of the acetic acid in it. It works best in your food – to clean up bacteria lingering on your salad leaves, for example.
Apple cider vinegar is not a home remedy for yeast infections, regardless of whether you bathe in it or apply it topically, doctors say.
There is little evidence related to the efficacy of apple cider vinegar to treat yeast infections, and the studies that are out there are not robust. Although one study has shown potential, though minor, effect, this study was performed lab setting/petri dishes, not in a living organism, and when it comes down to it, more research is certainly needed to determine the route, dose, etc.
One study did show that ACV's antifungal properties could help against the yeast candida, but there's one problem: it's not the same strain that's present in vaginal yeast infections.
There's also the idea that the high acidity in ACV could create a vaginal environment that's hostile to yeast. But doctors warn you don't want to mess with your vagina's pH levels. Yeast infections do not disrupt the normal vaginal pH, unlike some of the other vaginal infections, so “balancing” the pH isn't a solution of treating or preventing a yeast infection, doctors say.
You have to make sure
Because apple cider vinegar is acidic, using it topically on your vulva (or soaking your tampon in it) may actually make symptoms worse by irritating the area further, gynecologists warn.
And if you do self-treat a yeast infection with apple cider vinegar, one harmful aspect comes from the potential delay that treating a presumed case of yeast with apple cider vinegar can create. While for the vast majority of people, this is not going to pose a health risk, anyone who has ever had some form of vulvovaginitis (aka inflammation of the vulva and vagina) can tell you that quality of life is diminished substantially for the duration of symptoms.
That's because what you think is a yeast infection might not actually be a yeast infection. Almost half the time that women think they have yeast infections, they don’t, doctors warn. So you have to be sure you really have one.
You can take antifungal medication which you can get over the counter or prescribed by a doctor. They might come in the form of cream suppositories and oral treatments.
If after a few days of using an antifungal, you’re still experiencing symptoms, you might actually have an STI or bacterial vaginosis, in which case you should go to a doctor for a diagnosis and proper treatment.
Yeast infections share many of the same symptoms as more serious conditions. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and bacterial vaginosis are often mistaken for yeast infections. Left untreated, these conditions can put you at risk of serious complications and increase your vulnerability to other STIs.
The only way to make sure you’re treating the right condition is to get tested for yeast. If you test positive for a yeast infection, follow your doctor’s treatment recommendations.