Probiotics and Yeast Infections: Understanding the Connection Between Bacteria and Yeast
Yeast infections are a common type of fungal infection. They are typically caused by an overgrowth of the Candida fungus in the body. Yeast infections can happen anywhere on the body but are commonly known to affect the genital area, mouth, and skin. While yeast is a natural inhabitant of our bodies, an overgrowth of yeast can cause uncomfortable symptoms like itching, burning, and discharge.
Usually, the growth of yeast is kept in check by beneficial bacteria like Lactobacillus acidophilus, which maintain a healthy balance in the body. However, when the beneficial bacteria are affected by factors like antibiotics, hormonal changes, or a weakened immune system, the yeast can multiply rapidly, leading to an infection. (1)
Probiotics play an important role in getting rid of yeast infections, as they help to restore the beneficial bacteria in the body that keeps yeast under control. In this article, we discuss the connection between probiotics and yeast infections and the benefits of probiotics for treatment and prevention.
What Causes Yeast Infections?
Yeast infections are a type of infection caused by the overgrowth of yeast in the body. Yeast is usually kept under control by beneficial bacteria, so yeast infections typically occur when beneficial bacteria in the body are destroyed. Yeast infections can also occur due to changes in the body's pH or due to a weakened immune system.
Some of the primary factors that contribute to yeast infections include:
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics kill not only the harmful bacteria but also the beneficial ones, disrupting the natural balance of the body.
- Hormonal Changes: Hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause can lead to changes in the vaginal environment, making it easier for yeast to grow.
- High Blood Sugar: People with diabetes or those with high blood sugar levels are at an increased risk of yeast infections due to the higher sugar levels in their bodily fluids.
- Weakened Immune System: People with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to yeast infections.
- Other Factors: Other factors that can contribute to yeast infections include poor hygiene, tight clothing, and using scented or chemical-laden products.
How Probiotics Can Help in the Treatment and Prevention of Yeast Infections
Probiotics are live microorganisms, often referred to as "good bacteria," that can promote health and prevent diseases. (2) They are commonly found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut, as well as in supplements.
Research has shown that probiotics can help in the treatment and prevention of yeast infections by:
- Restoring the balance of beneficial bacteria: Probiotics help restore the balance of beneficial bacteria in the body, which can help to keep the growth of yeast in check.
- Reducing inflammation: Probiotics can help reduce inflammation in the body, which can contribute to the growth of yeast.
- Boosting the immune system: Probiotics can help boost the immune system, which can reduce the risk of yeast infections.
Each of these factors is critical in treating and preventing yeast infections.
Best Probiotics for Yeast Infection and BV
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is another common type of infection that is often confused with yeast infection. Interestingly, probiotics may be helpful in the treatment of both yeast infections and BV. There are several strains of probiotics that have been shown in research studies to be effective in preventing and treating yeast infections as well as bacterial infections. Some of the best probiotics for yeast infections and BV include:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus: This strain of bacteria is commonly found in the vagina and helps to maintain a healthy pH balance, making it difficult for yeast to grow.
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus: This strain has been shown to be effective in reducing the incidence of vaginal yeast infections.
- Bifidobacterium bifidum: This strain has been shown to reduce inflammation and promote a healthy gut microbiome, which can help to prevent yeast infections. (3)
Keep in mind not all probiotics are created equal, and the effectiveness of probiotics for yeast infections may vary depending on the brand and the specific strains included in the product.
Can Probiotics Cause Yeast Infection?
It is unlikely that probiotics can cause a yeast infection. In fact, probiotics are often recommended as a treatment for yeast infections. However, in rare cases, probiotics can cause bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine, leading to a condition known as Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). Symptoms of SIBO can include bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. (4)
Yeast Infection Treatment with Probiotics
Probiotics can be used as a complementary treatment for yeast infections. They can be taken orally in the form of supplements or consumed through fermented foods like yogurt and kefir. In addition, some probiotic products are specifically formulated for vaginal health and can be applied directly to the affected area.
It is important to note that while probiotics can be helpful in the treatment of yeast infections, they should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment. If you think that you may have a yeast infection, it is important to consult with your healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Probiotics to Prevent Yeast Infection
In addition to being used as a treatment for yeast infections, probiotics can also be used to prevent infections from occurring in the first place. This can be done by maintaining a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria in the body through regular consumption of probiotic-rich foods or supplements.
Other ways to prevent yeast infections include practicing good hygiene, avoiding scented or chemical-laden products, wearing loose-fitting clothing, and managing underlying conditions like diabetes or a weakened immune system.
Will Probiotics Help Yeast Infection?
Yes, probiotics can be helpful in the treatment of yeast infections. Research has shown that they help to restore the balance of good bacteria in the body, reduce inflammation, and boost the immune system, all of which can contribute to the prevention and treatment of yeast infections. (5)
Can Probiotics Cure Yeast Infection?
While probiotics can be helpful in the treatment of yeast infections, they cannot cure them on their own. Rather, probiotic supplementation usually plays a role in a larger Candida cleanse protocol.
Probiotics can help to recolonize beneficial bacteria and prevent yeast infections from occurring, but to get rid of a yeast infection completely, you need to eliminate the yeast overgrowth with antifungal supplements and an anti-Candida diet.
Additional Treatments for Yeast Infections
Some additional treatments for yeast infections include:
- Change your diet: Making changes to your diet can help to prevent and treat yeast infections. Avoiding sugar and refined carbohydrates, which can feed the yeast, and eating a diet rich in whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, can help to promote a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut.
- Coconut oil: Coconut oil is a natural antifungal and can be used topically to treat yeast infections. Apply a small amount of coconut oil to the affected area, and repeat several times a day until symptoms subside.
- Apple cider vinegar: Apple cider vinegar has antibacterial and antifungal properties, making it a natural remedy for yeast infections. You can add a cup of apple cider vinegar to your bathwater and soak in it for 20-30 minutes, or you can dilute it with water and apply it topically.
- Essential oils: Essential oils like oregano, lavender, tea tree, and peppermint have antifungal properties and can be used to treat yeast infections. Mix a few drops of your chosen essential oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, and apply it topically to the affected area.
- Garlic: Garlic is another natural remedy that has antifungal properties. It can be consumed orally, or you can apply it directly to the affected area. To apply garlic topically, crush a few cloves and mix them with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil or olive oil.
- Prescription medications: In some cases of infection, a healthcare provider may prescribe an antifungal medication, such as fluconazole or terconazole, which can be taken orally or applied topically.
If you are concerned about having an infection or have any of the symptoms of a yeast infection, it is recommended to consult with your doctor to determine the best course of treatment for your individual needs.
Yeast infections can be uncomfortable and disruptive, but there are many ways to prevent and treat them. Probiotics can be a helpful tool in the prevention and treatment of yeast infections by restoring the balance of beneficial bacteria in the body, reducing inflammation, and boosting the immune system. It is important to choose a high-quality probiotic that contains multiple different strains of beneficial bacteria and to consult with a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment of a yeast infection.