Vaginal yeast infections affect the majority of women at some point, and although they are not typically associated with greater harms to your health, they can produce significant discomfort. Vitamin C may help to relieve symptoms of yeast infections and facilitate healing. However, as of 2011, more research is needed to understand whether and how vitamin C supports the healthy ecology of vaginal bacteria. While there are no known health risks associated with dietary vitamin C, high levels of supplements may adversely affect your health. Prior to taking a vitamin C supplement, consult your doctor to discuss your personal health needs.
Vaginal yeast infections affect approximately three out of four women at some point in their lives, and many women experience multiple infections. Vaginal yeast infections are a type of vaginitis, a condition in which the vagina becomes irritated and inflamed. Infections range from mild to severe and are characterized by symptoms of itching, burning, possible odor and a thick, milky discharge. The fungus, candida albicans, is responsible for the majority of vaginal yeast infections, and overgrowth disrupts the balance of healthy bacteria in your vagina.
The appropriate treatment for a vaginal yeast infection depends on the severity of the condition. Standard medical therapies for mild infection typically involve a short course of an antifungal vaginal cream or suppository, which are available over-the-counter, or a single dose oral medication, such as Diflucan, which requires a prescription. If you have a severe or chronic infection, your doctor may advise a longer course of vaginal therapy or multiple doses of an oral antifungal medication. If you are sexually active, vaginal intercourse can further complicate your infection, and your doctor may advise using condoms or possible treatment for your partner.
An essential nutrient and antioxidant, vitamin C plays a central role in wound healing and immune function, and research suggests that it may help to prevent or delay cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. As a nutrient required for the function of your immune system, vitamin C may help to facilitate recovery from a yeast infection. However, as of 2011, there is not substantial research on the effects of vitamin C in either dietary or supplemental form for treating or preventing the condition. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, dietary supplements of vitamin C may serve to reduce symptoms of inflammation associated with yeast infections.
While scientific research has not documented the efficacy of vitamin C for treating yeast infections, recent studies indicate that it may be useful in curing vaginitis. An article published in November 2004 in the "European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology" demonstrated that vaginal suppositories of vitamin C served to significantly improve symptoms of vaginitis. Compared to women administered a placebo, women who received vitamin C treatment showed a reduction in itching, swelling and discharge, and a marked increase in lactobacilli, or healthy vaginal bacteria.
- MayoClinic.com; Yeast infection; May 2010
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin C
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Candidiasis
- "European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology"; Efficacy and Safety of Vitamin C Vaginal Tablets in the Treatment of Non-Specific Vaginitis; E.E. Peterson et al.; November 2004