If you've ever had a yeast infection, you know how uncomfortable they can be. Sometimes they're easy to treat, but other times, they're a major pain to get rid of, calling for messy anti-fungal creams, suppositories, or other weird remedies. (I was once told to freeze yogurt into a popsicle shape and... you know.) Personally, I'm not a huge fan of using any of these methods, so when I heard a rumor that everyone's favorite miracle substance, coconut oil, might be an effective treatment, I was kind of in disbelief. I mean, can coconut oil get rid of a yeast infection? Like, actually?
OK, first of all, just to give you a little more background about this, let's break down what a yeast infection actually is. To put it simply, it's when there are too many yeast cells growing in your vagina. While it's normal to have some yeast fungus down there, it's usually in small numbers. But the yeast that causes most of these types of infections is called candida albicans.
And yeah, while a healthy vag does have lots of bacteria (which is part of the reason why they're self-cleaning) and some amount of yeast, the bacteria helps keep the yeast in check. A yeast infection happens when something upsets the balance of the bacteria, and yeast starts growing more plentifully.
So how does coconut oil factor into all of this?
Well, there's some evidence that coconut oil kills yeast, according to a 2007 study that found using coconut oil helps kill the species of yeast that causes fungal infections. The study compared the use of coconut oil with Fluconazole, a prescription drug used to treat fungal infections.
In case you didn't know, coconut oil has long been recognized to have anti-fungal properties. A study in Nigeria, for example, showed it to be an effective killer of fungus and recommended using it as a treatment. What makes coconut oil anti-fungal are the three different fatty acids it contains: caprylic acid, capric acid, and lauric acid. Each of these has been shown to be effective in battling candida yeast. Specifically, caprylic acid is actually something you can purchase on its own in supplement form for this purpose.
While more research is needed to further prove the effectiveness of coconut oil for fungal infection, all signs are pointing to at least giving it a shot, especially since, you know, 75 percent of people who have vaginas are affected by yeast infections at one point or another.
If you're interested in using coconut oil for your yeast infection, try using unrefined, and preferably organic, oil.
Overall, just make sure whatever product you're using is 100 percent coconut oil, and not a blend with other, potentially harmful ingredients.
As for application, you can apply the coconut oil directly from the jar onto the affected skin or folds of skin down there. For a different method, you can actually insert a tampon soaked in coconut oil to relieve symptoms. Again, just be sure what you're using is 100 percent coconut oil so you don't make things worse.
Other preventative measures for yeast infections include generally keeping the vagina clean and dry (but definitely do not try douching; soap and water is all you need), avoiding irritating and scented fabrics or products, taking probiotics or probiotic-rich foods, and yes, peeing after sex.
So, if you're suffering from a yeast infection right now, trust me, I've been there. And if it seems to persist even after you try out your new coconut oil trick, definitely head to your doc to see what you can do.