Yeast Infections: Common Causes

Yeast infections, unfortunately are a common occurrence for women, with at least three out of four women experiencing one during their lifetime. Vaginal yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of Candida yeast which usually exists at normal levels within the vagina with no issues, until the vaginal environment is thrown out of balance, resulting in the overgrowth of bacteria, resulting in a yeast infection. So what causes the symptomatic changes in the vaginal environment putting you at risk of a yeast infection?

  • Antibiotics: Taking antibiotics is one of the most common causes of a vaginal yeast infection, changing the level of bacteria and other organisms in the vagina, such as bacteria lactobacillus (acidophilus) which usually works to maintain the yeast cells at just the right level. Certain medications can alter the acidity levels of the vagina, called the ‘pH balance’, enabling yeast to overgrow.
  • Pregnancy: Pregnancy increases the levels of the hormone ‘estrogen’, which may support an increased chance of a yeast infection during the pregnancy.
  • Hormone Fluctuations: Taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or birth control pills can alter the balance of hormones in the body, particularly estrogen and progesterone. As in pregnancy the rise in estrogen levels can result in yeast infections and in some cases, women may notice an increase in yeast infections at specific times throughout their menstrual cycle.
  • Diabetes: Under managed diabetes such as allowing the blood sugar levels to rise too high can result in yeast infections. Unfortunately yeast flourishes on the excess glucose in the body.
  • Weak Immune System: Conditions that weaken the immune system such as HIV or AIDS, can prevent the body’s normal defense systems from fighting off yeast infections. For many women a cold or flu which can momentarily weaken the immune system can also increase the risk of a yeast infection.
  • Douching: Douching can unsettle the natural balance of yeast and bacteria that live in the vagina, effectively killing off some of the healthy bacteria that the vagina requires to prevent the overgrowth of yeast.

Yeast infections, caused by the overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans can produce a clumpy white discharge, itching, burning and redness of the labia, though another condition that may be at fault is bacterial vaginosis (BV), like a yeast infection, it is caused by an imbalance of both good and bad bacteria in the vagina. Although with BV often there are no presenting symptoms, though you may notice a thin, grayish discharge and a distinctive fishy odor, particularly after sexual intercourse.Treatment is vital, not only are BV and yeast infections unpleasant but if left untreated may result in an increased risk of pelvic inflammatory disease, pregnancy complications and sexual transmitted diseases including HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea and herpes.

We recommend consulting with your health care provider as the correct diagnosis is important, while yeast infections can be treated and prevented with over the counter topical or prescription oral medications, BV is treated with either vaginal or oral antibiotics available only on prescription by your GP. Available on for non-prescribed treatment we stock the highly effective Balance Activ Vaginal Gel, Balance Activ Vaginal Pessary and Relactagel that all work to restore the natural balance of a healthy vaginal environment.

22nd Mar 2018

Advice & articles

Stay Informed