Getting a yeast infection once is no fun, but dealing with all that itching and burning recurrently is something no one should have to go through. Unfortunately, sometimes yeast infections are persistent, which is why it's important to figure out the reasons
why your yeast infection won't go away. Certain habits can trigger an infection, and making sure you avoid them can help you keep your vagina as healthy as possible.
"Clinically, yeast infections are considered 'recurrent' if they occur four or more times per year," Ronald A. Valdez, M.D., a gynecologist with the
Institute for Women’s Health, tells Bustle. "This condition, known as chronic vulvovaginal candidiasis, affects a small portion of the population, but it can be significantly uncomfortable for those who experience it. There isn’t one hard and fast reason why these occur, so if you’re getting yeast infections, schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN. We’ll do testing and suggest medication and/or lifestyle adjustments to treat the condition."
Getting to the root of the issue can help you banish yeast infections once and for all. If you keep getting plagued by unwanted discharge and itchiness, you'll want to pay attention to these 11 reasons your yeast infection keeps coming back, according to experts.
Recurrent Use Of Antibiotics
Your vaginal ecosystem is comprised of both good and bad bacteria, which work together to keep your vaginal pH levels balanced. A side effect of taking antibiotics is that it depletes some of the
naturally-occurring "good" bacteria. "Antibiotics, which may be prescribed for a host of reasons, can upset the delicate balance in your ecosystem and put you at increased risk for yeast infections," says Valdez. "Make sure your OB/GYN monitors your antibiotic intake carefully and can treat any infections that occur."
Resistance To Medication
If you keep
getting yeast infections, the fungus that causes your yeast infection may be resistant to the traditional medications like fluconazole or the over the counter anti-fungal preparations. "Though most yeast infections respond to traditional therapy, there are different strains of yeast that can exist, and some strains may not respond to the first-line agents that are typically used," says Kim. "Physicians [can] send specific cultures to figure out the type of yeast to modify treatment."
Exposure To Things That Mess With pH
"The vagina can be delicate and temperamental, often affected by everyday routines,"
Sherry Ross, MD, OB/GYN tells Bustle. "Anything that disrupts the pH balance makes the vagina a not-so-happy place." Common irritants you may not realize can cause a yeast infection include fragrant soaps, detergents, nylon underwear or bathing suits, tampons, creams, and more.
Not Completing A Treatment
If you've had a yeast infection before, it's important you finish the treatment, even when symptoms subside. "Many women don’t complete the course of treatment for yeast," says Ross. "Whether you are taking Diflucan, which is a two-pill treatment regimen, or over the counter remedies, it's important to take the entire treatment recommendation."
Drinking Too Much Caffeine Or Alcohol
You may not realize this, but your lifestyle choices matter when it comes to
maintaining your vaginal health. "Caffeine and alcohol can affect the delicate pH balance of the vagina leading to recurrent infections," says Ross. Both of these can make your blood sugar rise, which creates an ideal environment for yeast to thrive.
"For those with diabetes, a sugar-laden diet can certainly increase the chances of recurrent yeast infections," says Valdez. "However, for the non-diabetic, the sugar consumption and yeast infection connection is a little trickier. Constant sugar highs, and the glucose production that accompanies them, may indeed create an environment in which yeast can grow. But eliminating all sugar consumption won’t eliminate yeast infections." The takeaway: enjoy sugar in moderation.
Certain Chronic Medical Conditions
Suffering from other medical conditions can put you at a higher risk for yeast infections. "Chronic medical
conditions such as diabetes or other medical problems that make your immune system susceptible to infection can cause recurrent yeast infections," says Ross. "Many women will take prophylaxis anti-yeast medications to prevent a recurrence of yeast infections if they are immune suppressed." If you think an underlying condition may be causing recurring yeast infections, speak with your doctor, and they will help you evaluate the best next steps.
Significant life changes such as pregnancy, puberty, and menopause, can all lead to recurrent yeast infections. "When you’re pregnant, your body produces more estrogen, which can help candida grow," says Valdez. "In menopause, your body produces less estrogen, which can lead to vaginal dryness and tearing, leaving you more susceptible to infection. And in puberty, hormone changes and the unfamiliarity of proper menstruation hygiene can also create environments where yeast can thrive."
Staying In Your Workout Clothes
Staying in tight clothing for too long can
also lead to yeast infections. "Wearing certain clothes that allow for increased perineal moisture and temperature, like wet workout clothes or tight clothing, promote a wonderful environment for yeast to take over," Christine Greves, MD, OB-GYN at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies tells Bustle. "That’s why I tell my patients to make sure that they change right after they work out. Ideally, showering would be best."
Certain Forms Of Birth Control
Different forms of birth control, from the pill to condoms, can put you at a greater risk for yeast infections. "Sometimes, women on oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy have a higher amount of estrogen, which can increase the ability of the candida to adhere to the vaginal environment and take over, resulting in symptoms," says Greves. "Or, an IUD can hold onto the candida and form biofilms." Spermicides and condoms can also disrupt the balance of the vaginal flora. "Yeast metabolize spermicide, which allows them to adhere more," she says."
Not all women will be affected by these factors, but if you get frequent yeast infections, you might want to pay attention to these common causes, and talk to your OB/GYN about the best solutions for you.