Connection Between Chronic Yeast Infections And Hormonal Imbalance (2023)

Chronic yeast infections are commonly attributed to lifestyle issues like using tight underwear, use of over-the counter feminine hygiene products/douches, being overweight or having a diet high in sugar intake, having diabetes, over-use of antibiotics, or having a condition that suppresses the immune system. However, one of the important underlying causes of chronic yeast infection can actually be hormonal imbalance – especially imbalance in sex-hormones like estrogen and progesterone.

Before I continue with this article, you should know I've recently compiled a list of science-backed ways to get rid of candida yeast infections. You can download my free Candida Report here if you haven't yet.
Effect of estrogen on infection causing yeast (Candida)

Over the last many years, researchers have consistently found an effect of estrogen on the growth of the yeast, Candida. For example, a study published in 2000 by researchers from Iowa clearly showed that estrogen (specifically, 17-β-estradiol) increased the growth and survival of Candida.

Candida exists in two forms – oval form and filamentous form. A change from the oval to the filamentous form is necessary for infection establishment. Research at the University of Illinois found that 17-β-estradiol, the predominant type of estrogen during reproductive years, supported the conversion of oval form to the filamentous form. On the contrary, 17-β-estradiol, which is similar to 17-β-estradiol but lacks its activity, did not have the same effect. Similarly, neither Estriol (produced in significant amounts during pregnancy), nor Ethynyl estradiol (a derivative of Estradiol commonly used in oral contraceptive pills) had any effect on conversion to filamentous form.

Many women notice an increase in vaginal yeast infections before their periods or around menopause. This is because of the changes in estrogen levels – high before periods and low closer to menopause. Lower estrogen levels cause vaginal dryness which can lead to more injuries to the vaginal tissue and increase the chances of infection.

(Video) What causes yeast infections, and how do you get rid of them? - Liesbeth Demuyser

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Effect of Estrogen on vaginal immunity against infections

A review article published in 2010 describes the role of sex-hormones in immunity of reproductive tract against infections. The vaginal cells have an immune system of their own to prevent infection. However, the reproductive tract also needs to be able to support fertilization and maintain the fetus which, being genetically different, is foreign to the woman’s body. This balance is achieved by the changing levels of sex-hormones with the stage of the menstrual cycle. Thus, lower estrogen levels are protective against infections while an increase in estrogen suppresses the immunity against infections. This immunosuppressive effect of estrogen also seems to be responsible for yeast infections as shown by research published in 2012 by researchers from Arizona.

Effect of progesterone on infection causing yeast (Candida)

An article published in 2014 by scientists from Portugal and UK studied the effect of progesterone on Candida. Progesterone is produced in larger amounts in the luteal phase (between ovulation and start of the period) of menstrual cycle and also during pregnancy. They found that progesterone reduced the infective capacity of Candida. Progesterone achieves this effect by suppressing the genes of Candida needed for establishment of infection.

So what about chronic yeast infections?

(Video) Can Hormonal Imbalances Cause Recurring Yeast Infections #shorts #candidacleanse

You might wonder that if it is natural and normal for a woman to have fluctuating levels of estrogen, shouldn’t the lower levels of estrogen in the non-ovulating phase then take care of the infection? Yes, you are right, it should. Obviously, something else is happening that makes the yeast infection chronic.

A study carried out in mice by an expert from Sharjah, published in 2014, showed that giving estrogen externally to mice predisposed them to severe and persistent vaginal yeast infections.

Several prevalence studies have shown that Candida infections are more common in pregnant women during the second or third trimester of pregnancy. This would correlate directly with the increased levels of estrogen in the second and third trimester. As we have learnt, the higher levels of progesterone during this time should prevent infections. So what is happening in pregnant women who get yeast infection?

Could the cause be hormonal imbalance due to external reasons? The question then changes to what are the external reasons for hormonal imbalance – especially estrogen increase (also called estrogen dominance)?

Endocrine disruptors

A review article by scientists from Kenya and USA, published in 2012, discussed the impact of endocrine disruptors on the immunity against pathogens in the reproductive tract. Endocrine disruptors are molecules in our environment that affect our hormones. These compounds include synthetic chemicals like pesticides, herbicides, plastics, and therapeutic hormones. Some naturally occurring compounds can also act as endocrine disruptors, for example, phytoestrogens – plant derived compounds that behave like estrogens.

(Video) The Surprising Thing That Could Be Causing Your Yeast Infection

Different endocrine disruptors behave differently – some block normal hormonal activity, others mimic the natural hormones, while some others trigger hormone production. Thus, there are external compounds in our environment that can cause estrogen dominance, for example, Bisphenol A (BPA – commonly found in plastic containers used to store foods and beverages) which triggers estrogen activity and phytoestrogens that increase the overall estrogen activity by mimicking estrogen.

So, if there are more of these endocrine disruptors in our environment, there are higher chances of getting hormonal imbalance and the related chronic yeast infections.

1) Does hormone imbalance related chronic yeast infection affect just females or male as well?

Estrogen is a hormone largely produced by ovaries, but also to some extent by adrenal cortex, and testes. So, men also produce estrogen to some extent. Natural hormonal imbalances do occur in men with age. However, estrogen dominance is also increasingly common in men of younger age. Yeast infections are not the commonly described symptoms of estrogen dominance in men. This is understandable due to differences in male and female reproductive anatomy and needs. That being said, there are increased reports of chronic yeast infections in men – these are primarily infections of skin of the genitalia (for example, balanitis). Whether there is a link between estrogen dominance and chronic yeast infection is yet to be determined.

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2) Can hormone replacement cause recurring yeast infections?

Yes. A study published in 2011 by experts from University of Sydney showed clearly that postmenopausal women who took hormone replacement therapy (HRT) were significantly more likely to develop yeast infections. It is possible that this happens because the normal vaginal microbes change in the HRT receiving women, as was described by an earlier study from India. However, it is important to keep in mind that HRT involves external estrogen doses and each body is different and has its own normal limit. Also, it is not naturally normal for a post-menopausal woman to have high amounts of estrogen and therefore even levels of estrogen lower than in pre-menopausal women could be high enough to be considered hormonal imbalance in a postmenopausal woman.

3) What are bioidentical hormones? Are they safer?

Bioidentical hormones are exact duplicates of what your body makes, but is created in a laboratory. They are synthesized by chemical extraction of diosgenin from plants like yams and soy. Diosgenin is then modified chemically to make precursor progesterone which in turn is used to synthesize bioidentical estrogens and androgens. Specialists from Cleveland Clinic have discussed the misconceptions regarding Bioidentical Hormone Therapy (BHRT) in an article published in 2011.

As bioidenticals are an exact copy of the natural hormone, for HRT, they will have the same safety profiles as the natural hormone. FDA does not recognize BHRT and is unaware of any credible scientific evidence regarding its safety, and recommends informed and careful decision while choosing HRT products.

(Video) How to prevent recurrent vaginal infections (BV + yeast) NATURALLY

FAQs

Can hormone imbalance cause recurring yeast infection? ›

Hormonal imbalances are linked to yeast infections. People are more likely to get candidiasis if they're pregnant, on hormonal contraception, and around their period. This is because it disrupts your body's natural balance of progesterone and estrogen.

Can a yeast infection mess with your hormones? ›

Overgrowth occurs when Candida, a common form of yeast, attaches itself to estrogen. This prevents your body from using the estrogen and eventually drives your estrogen levels down. During this time your progesterone levels may increase.

What underlying conditions cause recurrent yeast infections? ›

Some factors or conditions that can increase the risk of a yeast infection include:
  • Certain types of antibiotics.
  • Pregnancy and changes in the body's hormone level.
  • Diabetes.
  • HIV.
  • Change in immune status (e.g. in transplant patients)

Can low estrogen levels cause yeast infection? ›

There's no strong association between perimenopause and yeast infections. There may be a modest relationship between changes in estrogen and changes in the pH of the vagina (or the acid-alkaline balance of the vagina), but it's not a strong link.

How I cured my recurrent yeast infection? ›

Taking an antifungal medication for three to seven days will usually clear a yeast infection. Antifungal medications — which are available as creams, ointments, tablets and suppositories — include miconazole (Monistat 3) and terconazole.

Can vitamin D deficiency cause yeast infections? ›

According to a study recorded by Cynthia Aranow, M.D. in 2011, “vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased autoimmunity and susceptibility to infection.” Low levels of vitamin D were also found in those suffering with Candida, yeast, bacterial overgrowth, and various digestive disorders.

What supplements help prevent yeast infections? ›

The probiotics lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and lactobacillus reuteri RC-14 may be most effective at treating or preventing yeast infections. Which probiotic kills yeast? Some studies have found that lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and lactobacillus reuteri RC-14 probiotics may work to treat and prevent yeast infections.

What probiotic helps with yeast infections? ›

Lactobacillus rhamnosus, the most researched probiotic, has been found to be beneficial in the prevention of yeast infection,” explains Dr. Goje. “Research shows that Lactobacillus rhamnosus kills bacteria and yeast in the vagina.

How do you fix hormonal imbalance? ›

The following strategies may help:
  1. Getting enough sleep. Sleep may be among the most important factors for hormonal balance. ...
  2. Avoiding too much light at night. ...
  3. Managing stress. ...
  4. Exercising. ...
  5. Avoiding sugars. ...
  6. Eating healthy fats. ...
  7. Eating lots of fiber. ...
  8. Eating plenty of fatty fish.
28 Sept 2020

Can thyroid issues cause yeast infections? ›

In short, your autoimmune thyroid condition could influence your risk for yeast infections.

How do you check for hormone imbalance? ›

How are hormonal imbalances diagnosed? Healthcare providers typically order blood tests to check hormone levels since your endocrine glands release hormones directly into your bloodstream.

Can low estrogen cause Candida? ›

Hormone imbalances may also be a risk factor for yeast infections. Hormones can have a pretty big impact on your vagina's delicate microbiome. Fluctuations in estrogen can lead to an overgrowth of yeast and eventually a yeast infection.

What are the symptoms of low estrogen? ›

Signs of low estrogen include:
  • Dry skin.
  • Tender breasts.
  • Weak or brittle bones.
  • Trouble concentrating.
  • Moodiness and irritability.
  • Vaginal dryness or atrophy.
  • Hot flashes and night sweats.
  • Irregular periods or no periods (amenorrhea).
8 Feb 2022

Can yeast infections cause mood swings? ›

Many people with yeast infections also report suffering from various mood disorders. These co-occurring disorders can include depressive disorders and anxiety disorders, including panic attacks. Unusual mood swings and irritability are other possible signs of an overgrowth of Candida.

What causes frequent yeast infection in females? ›

Increased estrogen levels.

Yeast infections are more common in women with higher estrogen levels — such as pregnant women or women taking high-dose estrogen birth control pills or estrogen hormone therapy.

What are the symptoms of chronic yeast infection? ›

Itching or irritation of the vagina and vulva. Thick, white, odorless vaginal discharge with a cottage cheese-like texture. Watery discharge. Pain or burning during urination.

Why is my body prone to fungal infections? ›

Anyone with a weakened immune system may be more likely to contract a fungal infection, as well as anyone who is taking antibiotics. Cancer treatment and diabetes may also make a person more prone to fungal infections.

Why won't my yeast infection go away with treatment? ›

Below are some reasons that this may happen: The medication may need more time to work: It can take up to 7 days for an antifungal medication to eradicate a yeast infection. The infection could be treatment resistant : Some yeast may be more resilient to antifungal treatment.

What mimics a yeast infection? ›

Skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis as well as lichen sclerosus, an inflammatory condition that is more common in postmenopausal people, can mimic symptoms of a yeast infection.

Can stress cause yeast infections? ›

Women tend to be more likely to get vaginal yeast infections if their bodies are under stress from poor diet, lack of sleep, illness, or when they are pregnant or taking antibiotics. Women with immune-suppressing diseases such as diabetes and HIV infection also are at increased risk.

What vitamins fight fungal infections? ›

In summary, the vitamin B2 (riboflavin), B3 (pantothenic acid), and B9 (folate) pathways appear to offer the most attractive antifungal drug targets among the essential vitamin biosynthetic pathways.

How do you know if you have invasive Candida? ›

However, the most common symptoms of invasive candidiasis are fever and chills that don't improve after antibiotic treatment for suspected bacterial infections. Other symptoms can develop if the infection spreads to other parts of the body, such as the heart, brain, eyes, bones, or joints.

Does vitamin D fight Candida? ›

In a 2019 study on critically ill children taking broad-spectrum antibiotics, researchers found that consuming a yogurt drink with 300 IU of vitamin D resulted in significantly fewer Candida infections compared with the group who consumed the yogurt drink but did not take vitamin D.

What kills Candida fast? ›

Top 7 Strongest Candida Killers To Fight Candida Overgrowth
  • Caprylic Acid. Coconut oil is made up of three fatty acids: caprylic acid capric acid and lauric. ...
  • Undecylenic Acid. ...
  • Oregano Leaf Extract. ...
  • Berberine. ...
  • Betaine HCl. ...
  • Garlic Extract. ...
  • Olive Leaf Extract.

What yogurt is best for treating yeast infection? ›

Plain yogurt that contains Lactobacillus and no natural sweeteners might help treat the infection and ease the symptoms. But be sure to only use plain yogurt. Yogurt that contains added sugar will likely make the infection and its symptoms worse because sugar causes the yeast to multiply.

What foods create yeast in the body? ›

People following the candida diet limit or avoid certain foods, such as sugar, gluten, alcohol, and some dairy products, that may promote the growth of Candida yeast in the body. The diet also involves eating healthful fats and anti-inflammatory foods.

How can I cure Candida naturally and permanently? ›

How to get rid of Candida naturally
  1. Cutting back on unhelpful foods. As we've already seen, eating refined, high-sugar foods allows Candida to thrive. ...
  2. Focusing on sleep, exercise, and stress reduction. ...
  3. Using supplements. ...
  4. Adding medication when needed.
2 Feb 2020

What kills yeast in the gut? ›

Garlic and turmeric both have antifungal properties that naturally inhibit candida overgrowth. The best candida fighter in the kitchen, however, is coconut oil. Its medium-chain fatty acids combat candida in the gut, killing it within 30 minutes of exposure.

What vitamins are good for vaginal health? ›

They're also essential for vaginal health. Vitamins A, D, and E are necessary for keeping your vagina healthy and free from infection. For example, Vitamin A is essential for maintaining the health of your mucous membranes, including those in your vagina.

Are yeast infections related to hormones? ›

Causes of Yeast Infections

Hormone imbalances may also be a risk factor for yeast infections. Hormones can have a pretty big impact on your vagina's delicate microbiome. Fluctuations in estrogen can lead to an overgrowth of yeast and eventually a yeast infection.

Do high estrogen levels cause yeast infections? ›

Increased estrogen levels.

Yeast infections are more common in women with higher estrogen levels — such as pregnant women or women taking high-dose estrogen birth control pills or estrogen hormone therapy.

Why do I keep getting yeast infections every month? ›

High estrogen levels: Having elevated estrogen levels due to pregnancy, taking high-estrogen birth control pills, or using estrogen hormone therapy can increase your risk of yeast infections. Excess estrogen can promote higher levels of glycogen (a stored form of glucose, also known as sugar) in the vagina.

Can hormonal imbalances cause infections? ›

This condition is frequently observed after menopause. It may also develop at other times of life when the body's estrogen levels decline, such as during breastfeeding. Reduced hormone levels are responsible for vaginal thinning and dryness, which predisposes to inflammation of the vagina and vaginal infections.

How do you fix hormonal imbalance? ›

The following strategies may help:
  1. Getting enough sleep. Sleep may be among the most important factors for hormonal balance. ...
  2. Avoiding too much light at night. ...
  3. Managing stress. ...
  4. Exercising. ...
  5. Avoiding sugars. ...
  6. Eating healthy fats. ...
  7. Eating lots of fiber. ...
  8. Eating plenty of fatty fish.
28 Sept 2020

What are the symptoms of low estrogen? ›

Signs of low estrogen include:
  • Dry skin.
  • Tender breasts.
  • Weak or brittle bones.
  • Trouble concentrating.
  • Moodiness and irritability.
  • Vaginal dryness or atrophy.
  • Hot flashes and night sweats.
  • Irregular periods or no periods (amenorrhea).
8 Feb 2022

How do you check for hormone imbalance? ›

How are hormonal imbalances diagnosed? Healthcare providers typically order blood tests to check hormone levels since your endocrine glands release hormones directly into your bloodstream.

Can thyroid issues cause yeast infections? ›

In short, your autoimmune thyroid condition could influence your risk for yeast infections.

Can PCOS cause fungal infection? ›

According to the internet, women with PCOS often have problems with their insulin which could cause yeast infections.

Can vitamin D deficiency cause yeast infections? ›

According to a study recorded by Cynthia Aranow, M.D. in 2011, “vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased autoimmunity and susceptibility to infection.” Low levels of vitamin D were also found in those suffering with Candida, yeast, bacterial overgrowth, and various digestive disorders.

What supplements help prevent yeast infections? ›

The probiotics lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and lactobacillus reuteri RC-14 may be most effective at treating or preventing yeast infections. Which probiotic kills yeast? Some studies have found that lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and lactobacillus reuteri RC-14 probiotics may work to treat and prevent yeast infections.

What probiotic helps with yeast infections? ›

Lactobacillus rhamnosus, the most researched probiotic, has been found to be beneficial in the prevention of yeast infection,” explains Dr. Goje. “Research shows that Lactobacillus rhamnosus kills bacteria and yeast in the vagina.

Can low estrogen cause bacterial infections? ›

A lower vaginal pH inhibits uropathogen growth, preventing vaginal infections. Decreased estrogen secretion in postmenopausal women depletes lactobacilli and increases intravaginal pH, resulting in increased vaginal colonization by harmful microorganisms (e.g., Enterobacter, Escherichia coli, Candida, and Gardnerella).

What is the main cause of hormonal imbalance? ›

What Causes Hormonal Imbalance? An imbalance in hormones can be caused by unusually high stress, insufficient sleep, an unhealthy diet, diabetes, menopause, pregnancy, thyroid problems, and other conditions.

Can hormone imbalance affect vaginal pH? ›

Fragrances, perfumes, and abrasive cleansers can also cause irritation to the vagina. Menopause or pregnancy- Hormonal fluctuations during these life events can often lead to elevated pH levels.

Videos

1. The 7 Biggest Yeast Infection Myths | Ask Cleveland Clinic's Expert
(Cleveland Clinic)
2. Women's Health : How to Stop Recurring Yeast Infections
(ehowhealth)
3. STORYTIME: How I FINALLY Got Rid of Yeast Infections | Cure Odor & Itch | Feminine Hygiene Advice
(Kendra Kenshay)
4. Yeast affecting your skin? You may have it and not know! (Candida Albicans)
(Nerida Joy)
5. How To Know If You Have Yeast Infection
(Everyday Health)
6. 10 warning signs of hormonal imbalance causing Skin Problems - Dr. Nischal K | Doctors' Circle
(Doctors' Circle World's Largest Health Platform)
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