There are few things as annoying as having to deal with a vaginal infection. If you’ve ever had a yeast infection or bacterial vaginosis (BV), you’ll know firsthand how uncomfortable and disruptive it is to deal with itching, burning, unusual discharge, and a bad odor. So it’s only normal to want to get rid of these symptoms, stat. Especially if you deal with chronic yeast infections.

Booking an appointment with your healthcare provider can be time-consuming and costly, so you may be tempted to rummage through your pantry and try one of those at-home solutions you’ve read about online. 

Unfortunately, most home remedies for BV or vaginal yeast infections are largely ineffective and can cause more harm than good (despite what the internet says). But are there any legit home remedies for BV and yeast infections? 

Few studies have looked at the effectiveness of at-home or natural treatments for vaginal infections. The studies that have been done have some limitations, such as needing a control group, a short follow-up period, or a small sample size. Therefore, some home remedies are still considered unproven. Below, we unpack the science (or lack thereof) behind the most popular natural remedies for yeast infections and BV.

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Oregano oil and tea tree oil

Many plants and fungi produce natural antifungal compounds as a defense mechanism to ward off illness. Since a yeast infection is a fungal infection, some people believe that naturally anti-fungal essential oils (like oregano oil and tea tree) can kill the Candida species that cause yeast infections. While the logic makes sense, the science doesn't quite back it up.

The active ingredient in oregano essential oil is called carvacrol, which some studies have found to help against certain bacteria. In one in vitro study, it was shown to be good at killing Staphylococcus aureus, although not as effective as traditional antibiotics. In 2018, a study tested topically applied oregano oil to clear biofilms from wound infections that are usually resistant to commonly used antibiotics. 

The problem is that all organisms that carvacrol has been tested on aren't typically found in the vagina, and the tests were all done in labs or mice. 

One study also found that carvacrol inhibits the growth of multiple Lactobacillus species, which are good bacteria found in the vaginal microbiome. A study on rat vaginas found that carvacrol decreased the amount of yeast (Candida) found. But, the study didn't compare carvacrol treatment to the standard antifungal treatment. And while animal studies are helpful, the information we get from them is limited because the human vaginal microbiome is unique, making it hard to determine if the results of animal studies are relevant to humans. 

Unfortunately, there aren't any human trials yet on oregano oil's effectiveness against vaginal infections. While its antimicrobial properties are promising, it's unclear whether it works against yeast infections or BV, and most importantly, whether it's safe to use vaginally.

Similarly, although some studies have suggested that tea tree oil has the potential to fight funguses — including Candida albicans, the strain responsible for most vaginal yeast infections — the effects of tea tree oil on a yeast infection haven't been proven in human studies. Its effectiveness against yeast infections or BV in humans remains unclear, and it can cause stinging, burning, and irritation as a side effect.

Kefir and yogurt 

Kefir and yogurt are probably two of the most commonly recommended “natural” remedies for vaginal health. There’s a lot of research showing that fermented foods (including kefir, sauerkraut, yogurt, etc.) are a great way to look after your gut microbiome, but there’s no conclusive evidence to say that eating food with live cultures helps treat or prevent future yeast infections — let alone treat them. 

The theory is that doing so supports a healthy gut microbiome and might indirectly benefit the vaginal microbiome, but the link between the gut and vaginal microbiome is not well understood. The good thing about fermented milk products is that they often contain Lactobacillus, which is important for vaginal health. That’s why they’re often marketed for women’s health in general. However, there aren’t any studies that specifically looked at kefir and the vaginal microbiome or BV. As for studies about the consumption of probiotics in yogurt, there’s conflicting evidence on whether the probiotics actually get into the vagina. 

Some people also believe that applying kefir or yogurt directly onto the vulva and vagina can treat a yeast infection. There’s no evidence that this helps, and it might make things worse! Even if you buy yogurt with live cultures of lactobacilli in it, it’s unlikely that they’ll colonize in your vagina and ward off Candida albicans yeast. Plus, yogurt contains naturally occurring sugar that yeast thrives on, so you really don’t want to risk it. 


Garlic has natural antifungal properties, so it’s often touted as a natural treatment for yeast infections, which are caused by an overgrowth of specific fungi in your vaginal microbiome (most commonly, Candida albicans). One small study claimed that oral supplements containing garlic could be as effective as oral antifungal medications used to treat vaginal yeast infections (fluconazole). However, all of these treatments are unproven. No large-scale, well-controlled studies have looked at the effects of garlic on vaginal infections.

Some people even try applying garlic directly into their vagina, but it’s really not a good idea. There aren’t any studies on the use of garlic vaginally, and regardless of its antifungal properties, there’s no evidence that it can kill the fungal strains that cause yeast infections, specifically. Plus, putting anything (even if it’s “natural”) on your vulva or in your vagina can potentially throw off your natural pH, making an infection worse.  

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is generally safe to use on your hair and skin, so surely it’s safe for your vagina too, right? Well, we don’t know that for sure. And we also don’t have any evidence that it can treat a vaginal yeast infection or BV. 

Coconut oil contains high amounts of glycerol monolaurate (GML). Just like soap, GML is a surfactant that breaks up oil and grease. It’s this activity of breaking up lipids that gives it antimicrobial effects. 

Some studies have shown that GML works against Gram-positive (Staphylococcus, Streptococcus), Gram-negative (Gardnerella, Prevotella), and Gram-variable (Mycoplasma) organisms linked to vaginal infections. Other evidence shows that it can inhibit the growth of Candida and Gardnerella (the bacteria most commonly linked to BV), without affecting the “good” bacteria in your vaginal microbiome, so why isn’t it used to treat vaginal infections? 

Because GML hasn’t been tested in humans, it has been tested on the lab bench and in monkeys, but not in human vaginas. Also, remember that coconut oil is partially made up of GML, but it has other components as well. We also don’t know what an effective dose is for the average woman dealing with a vaginal infection. 

It’s also pretty tricky to keep high levels of GML inside the vagina. The vagina is a self-cleaning organ and tends to get rid of goopy things it doesn’t need. But there’s a research group trying to formulate a vaginal cream with varying levels of GML, so we may know more in the future. 

Apple cider vinegar

The wellness world loves apple cider vinegar for a myriad of health benefits, including everything from skin health to (supposedly) weight loss, but it’s not an effective remedy for a vaginal yeast infection.

One study did show that apple cider vinegar’s antifungal properties could help against yeast infections in the mouth, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s effective against the strains that are present in the vagina. 

Another theory is that thanks to its high acidity and low pH, apple cider vinegar could balance your vaginal pH. But yeast infections don’t always disrupt your pH, and like we covered above, it’s not something you really want to mess with. Save your apple cider vinegar as a salad dressing! 

Boric acid

OK, so it’s not technically “natural” but if you've been looking for some at-home remedies for a yeast infection or BV, you may have come across boric acid as a potential solution. While some studies have shown that it can be helpful in certain cases, doctors generally recommend against using boric acid as a first-line treatment.

Boric acid may be worth considering if traditional antifungal or antibiotic treatment fails, or if your symptoms keep coming back, but it’s not really the cure-all it’s touted to be. You should consult with your healthcare provider before taking boric acid, even though it's available over the counter. Your provider can help you determine if boric acid is the right choice for you and ensure that you use it safely.


What is the fastest way to get rid of a yeast infection?

To treat a yeast infection quickly, you can use over-the-counter or prescription antifungal medication like fluconazole, terconazole, or miconazole. These treatments come in various forms, such as vaginal suppositories, creams, ointments, or oral tablets. Your doctor will be able to recommend the best treatment option for you based on the severity of your yeast infection and whether you've had frequent yeast infections in the past. 

Can I treat BV without antibiotics?

Unfortunately, there aren’t any proven home remedies for BV. Because it's a bacterial infection, can be treated with antibiotics prescribed by your healthcare provider. There is some evidence that boric acid might treat certain BV-causing bacteria, but it’s really important to see your doctor or OBGYN if you suspect you have BV before self-medicating. They’ll be able to recommend the best antibiotic treatment based on your symptoms and which bacteria are causing the BV.