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Yeast infections are a common type of infection that affects about 75 percent of women at least once if their lifetimes. While uncomfortable, they’re typically easy to treat.

But before you can treat them, you first need to identify them.

These infections are easily diagnosed by a doctor. That’s your best bet, since your doctor will be able to say for certain whether you have a yeast infection.

However, if you can’t make it to a healthcare professional, you may want to try an at-home vaginal pH test. These tests determine how acidic your vaginal secretions are. They aren’t able to tell you for sure whether you have a yeast infection, but they should be able to help you rule out other types of infections.

A yeast infection is caused by an overgrowth of the fungus Candida, which naturally grows in the vaginal area. If there isn’t enough lactobacillus bacteria, which usually keeps Candida at bay, the chances of getting an infection increase.

Yeast infections are the second most common cause of vulvar and vaginal infection in women, according to Oluwatosin Goje, MD, MSCR, FACOG, an assistant professor of OB-GYN & Reproductive Biology at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine.

These infection can have a variety of signs and symptoms.

“Yeast infections are characterized by redness, itching, irritation, burning, swelling, and abnormal vaginal discharge that looks like cheese curd and can be yellow, cream, or white,” Goje says.

If you suspect you might have a yeast infection and want to get a diagnosis from your doctor, they’ll typically use a rapid test, like a vaginal DNA probe or saline microscopy. They may also make a diagnosis based on the signs and symptoms.

Goje notes that an at-home test can’t tell you if you specifically have a yeast infection.

“[At-home tests] may be able to differentiate a low pH candida from a high pH bacterial vaginosis (BV), but not detect yeast species — without you mailing out the sample collected,” she explains.

So, while these tests may be helpful in ruling out BV, that’s typically all you’ll be able to get from an at-home test.

If you do use one, note that you’ll get a reading of how acidic your vaginal secretions are on a scale from 1 to 14. The lower the number on the scale, the more acidic the sample is.

Some symptoms you may experience if you have a yeast infection are:

If you have any of these symptoms, you may want to get tested for a yeast infection. Goje suggests seeing a doctor if this is the first infection you’re experiencing, or if you’ve tried self-treating with no improvement.

If you don’t have the ability to see a doctor right away, you can use an at-home pH kit to test if your vaginal pH levels are off.

We made sure to look at reputable brands with positive feedback from customers who have used the products. We also took into consideration how easy it is to take these tests and how quickly you receive the results.

As previously mentioned, these tests will not tell you for certain whether you have a yeast infection. Instead, they’ll indicate if your pH levels are off.

While yeast infections typically have low pH levels, some other infections, like BV, have high pH levels.

It’s best to get an official diagnosis and treatment from your doctor if you’re unsure if your symptoms are caused by an infection.

Pricing guide

At-home vaginal pH tests are relatively affordable. They can be easily found online or at your local drugstore.

  • $ = under $12
  • $$ = $12–$15
  • $$$ = over $15

Best drugstore vaginal pH test

CVS Health Feminine Screening Kit for Vaginal Infections

  • Price: $$$

It’s easy to find a cheap and effective pH test at your local drugstore. This kit from CVS includes two swabs and lets you know in seconds if your vaginal pH is abnormal.

Reviewers say it helped them figure out whether they needed to go to their gynecologist for treatment. But reviewers say they wish the kit came with more swabs for the price.

As with any at-home vaginal pH test, it’s important to know that this test can’t tell you for sure whether you have a yeast infection.

Easiest vaginal pH test to read

Natureland Vaginal pH Test

  • Price: $$

This kit offers 40 pH strips to test the acidity levels in your vaginal discharge. It’s easy to use and read, and it comes with plenty of strips in case there’s an error with your first test.

The strips are individually packaged, which makes them easy to carry and store.

Customers like that the rainbow chart for these strips is easy to read, and the results appear quickly. One reviewer who had to constantly monitor her pH levels said this kit was perfect for determining if her levels were improving during her treatments.

Best discreet vaginal pH test

Stix Vaginal pH Tests

  • Price: $$

Stix offers home delivery and is urologist approved. This kit was designed by women with women in mind.

Kits get delivered to your front door in a discreet box and offer quick test results.

Each kit comes with two test swabs and simple instructions. Additionally, for those who need to monitor their pH levels regularly, the brand offers subscription options.

Reviews show satisfaction with the tests among customers who are prone to yeast infections and those looking for affordable options. Others appreciate that the test is discreet and they don’t have to make regular trips to their pharmacy.

Best inexpensive vaginal pH test

PGYARD Vaginal pH Test

  • Price: $$

This kit comes with 50 strips — 10 strips per pack — and is easy to use for those who need to test their pH regularly. The results are easy to read by following the chart provided by the kit.

Women prone to BV and yeast infections say they found this kit to be helpful and accurate during the times they felt an infection developing.

Additionally, people with diabetes who have to keep track of Candida also use this kit and say they found it to be helpful with monitoring.

The most accurate way to determine if you have a yeast infection is by receiving a vaginitis test from a doctor.

The doctor will use a sterile cotton swab to retrieve a sample. Then, they’ll examine the sample under a microscope to determine if there’s an infection.

If you take an at-home pH test, you’ll take one of the included pH strips and hold it against your vaginal wall for a few seconds.

Then, you’ll compare the color of the strip with the chart that came with your kit. This will tell you if your pH level is off, though it won’t be able to confirm for sure whether you have a yeast infection.

If you suspect you have a yeast infection after taking an at-home pH test, you can self-treat with over the counter (OTC) medication, such as miconazole and clotrimazole.

Goje suggests using calamine or 1% hydrocortisone for the vulvar itching. Additionally, switching to cotton or other breathable underwear can help prevent symptoms from getting worse.

If you get a diagnosis from a doctor, they may prescribe prescription medication, or you can also take OTC medication.

Goje treats patients with recurrent and failed therapy in a different manner.

“They may consider PCR or fungal culture (gold standard),” she says for those cases, which need stronger treatment.

Can an at-home test check for yeast infection?

No. At-home pH tests cannot check for yeast infections. They can only tell you whether your vaginal pH is normal.

Keep in mind that a high pH doesn’t necessarily indicate an infection. Similarly, a low or normal pH doesn’t confirm that an infection is present, either.

The most accurate way to know if you have a yeast infection is to get checked by your doctor.

How do doctors test for yeast infections?

Doctors typically conduct a vaginitis test when testing for an infection. They’ll use a swab to take a sample of your vaginal discharge, which is then examined under a microscope.

This test is the best option to determine if you have a yeast infection or if it’s another type of infection, such as BV, chlamydia, or trichomoniasis.

Is it OK to take yeast infection medication without getting a test from a doctor first?

Goje says it’s safe to self-treat a yeast infection if you’ve had a yeast infection in the past and have similar symptoms. It’s also fine to do if you’ve spoken with a professional virtually or over the phone, they confirm your symptoms are related to a yeast infection, and they recommend treatment.

However, in cases of a severe infection, it’s best to consult with a doctor.

Goje cautions, “Not ALL itch is [an overgrowth of] yeast.”

If your symptoms persist, she recommends setting up an in-person appointment with a doctor as soon as you can.

Still, Goje says that, “if there are severe symptoms, you can start OTC miconazole while waiting to be seen.”

If you have a yeast infection or suspect you have one, the only way to know for sure is to see your doctor. At-home tests can only tell you so much about the symptoms you may be experiencing.

If you’re able to self-treat with OTC medication, remember this may work for mild cases, but severe cases may need prescription medication.

As with any infection you may be experiencing, it’s best to consult with a doctor to confirm a diagnosis and receive treatment in a timely manner.

Giselle Castro is a freelance writer who lives in New York. She’s been published in Shape, Fitness, Women’s Health, and Hip Latina, among other sites. She is an avid runner and ran the New York City Marathon in 2019. She is passionate about wellness and fitness, and hopes to influence others through her writing.