Candida vaginal infections, more commonly referred to as yeast infections, are one of the most common female health issues. In fact, studies show that 75% of all women will experience at least one infection during their lifetime. Given that yeast infections are often caused by bacterial or hormonal fluctuations, it’s no surprise to learn that infections can occur simultaneously with your period.
Here’s all you need to know about your period and its impact on a yeast infection.
Table of Contents
- Can a Period Flush Out a Yeast Infection?
- How Can Your Period Help Clear Out Your Yeast Infection?
- Can a Period Make Your Yeast Infection Worse?
- Can a Period Cause a Yeast Infection?
- How to Treat a Yeast Infection?
- When to See a Doctor?
- Key Takeaways
Can a Period Flush Out a Yeast Infection?
Primary vaginal yeast infection symptoms include discharge, itching, and perineal pain while many women also experience rashes, swelling, and burning sensations during intercourse. While a little yeast and subsequent vaginal discharge are to be expected, an increase in volumes could be a sign of a yeast infection that has occurred due to overgrowth.
It is quite common for yeast infections to clear by themselves without medical attention, particularly when it is an isolated incident. You may note that the infection clears during or shortly after your period, which may suggest that your blood discharge has removed some of the overgrown yeast – although the evidence on this remains inconclusive.
How Can Your Period Help Clear Out Your Yeast Infection?
Whether the blood actively flushes out a yeast infection, the correlation between periods and overcoming a yeast infection is clear. This is partly due to a temporary change in vaginal pH levels, which makes the vagina a far less hospitable environment for yeast to grow. This can help kill the existing yeast cells and prevent the growth of new cells.
Perhaps more tellingly, your period causes estrogen levels to temporarily rise during the early parts of your cycle before falling after ovulation. Yeast infections are more common when estrogen levels are high, which is why you may note that the yeast infection clears or the symptoms become less noticeable after your period. This is because your vaginal flora and hormonal balances have had an opportunity to reset to a healthy level.
However, an estimated 5% of women experience symptomatic Vulvovaginal Candidiasis (VVC), which is characterized as three or more yeast infections in the space of one year. Even if the period seems to temporarily clear the yeast infection, the fact that the condition returns on a frequent basis confirm that further help is needed to support your body’s natural defenses.
Can a Period Make Your Yeast Infection Worse?
Firstly, experiencing period pain can make the symptoms of a yeast infection feel significantly worse. Moreover, the yeast infection may be exacerbated as an upshot of experiencing it alongside your period. The main reason, however, is that your attempts to relieve your period pains cause further irritation and prevent the body’s natural attempts to clear the yeast infection.
Sanitary products like tampons can increase the risk of a worsening yeast infection because they trap moisture, thus creating a better environment for yeast cells to thrive. Douching, taking very hot baths, and wearing tight underwear can all contribute to yeast production too. Therefore, yeast infections are often harder to manage during your period, which is why taking the right precautions is vital.
Can a Period Cause a Yeast Infection?
The short answer is yes, periods can cause – or at least contribute – to yeast infections. One reason is that menstruating causes a change in your vaginal pH levels. For most women, a healthy pH level ranges between 3.8 and 5.0 (moderately acidic) while their blood is around 7.3 (neutral). Blood passing through shouldn’t cause a yeast infection by itself and, as already discussed, may actually help remove it. Yet, it may cause an infection when other factors are present. This could include taking antibiotics or an impaired immune system.
When a period is the cause of a yeast infection, however, the infection is more likely to appear as a post-period condition. A combination of pH changes and hormonal fluctuations can kill the Lactobacillus bacteria and Candida fungi living in a healthy vagina. Consequently, this enables an imbalance where yeast overgrowth causes an infection.
How to Treat a Yeast Infection?
When you experience a yeast infection alongside your period, it’s important to consciously avoid the aforementioned issues like hot baths and wearing tight underwear. Likewise, switching from tampons to pads will be very useful. Even if it doesn’t treat the underlying cause of the infection, it will help control it.
However, if the infection won’t pass by itself, it is equally important to treat the yeast infection directly. Some of the most effective ways to do this include;
- Antifungal vaginal medications,
- Oral medication (fluconazole),
- Avoiding antibiotics for other health issues,
- Not wearing wet clothes for long periods,
- Avoiding scented products,
- Wearing cotton underwear,
- Wiping front to back,
- Managing your blood sugar levels (if diabetic).
When to See a Doctor?
If you experience a yeast infection that does not clear with home remedies and OTC medications, you should consult a doctor regardless of whether you have your period too. However, there is an even greater need to seek medical support when both issues occur simultaneously, especially if you have HIV, diabetes (which has been statistically shown to have a direct correlation with increased yeast infection risks), or any other health condition that impacts your immune system.
When your family doctor is not immediately available – or you feel a little apprehensive about discussing your vaginal health – DrHouse can connect you to a 24/7 online doctor. In most cases, a medical professional will call you back within 15 minutes.
Cooccurring periods and yeast infections are less common than many women assume, but it remains a situation that you could encounter at any stage of your menstruating years. Left untreated, the unpleasant symptoms attributed to each condition can cause significant discomfort. Gaining a medical understanding of your yeast infection won’t only allow you to treat the issue. Crucially, it’ll help you prevent the risk of repeat episodes too.
- Vulvovaginal Candidiasis (VVC). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/std/treatment-guidelines/candidiasis.htm
- Vaginal Candidiasis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/genital/index.html
- Lin YP, Chen WC, Cheng CM, Shen CJ. Vaginal pH Value for Clinical Diagnosis and Treatment of Common Vaginitis. Diagnostics (Basel). 2021 Oct 27;11(11):1996. doi: 10.3390/diagnostics11111996. PMID: 34829343; PMCID: PMC8618584.
- Reed BG, Carr BR. The Normal Menstrual Cycle and the Control of Ovulation. [Updated 2018 Aug 5]. In: Feingold KR, Anawalt B, Blackman MR, et al., editors. Endotext [Internet]. South Dartmouth (MA): MDText.com, Inc.; 2000-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279054/
- Jean Abbott. Clinical and Microscopic Diagnosis of Vaginal Yeast Infection: A Prospective Analysis. Annals of Emergency Medicine, Volume 25, Issue 5, 1995, Pages 587-591, ISSN 0196-0644. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0196-0644(95)70168-0
- Vaginal Yeast Infection. Harvard Health Publishing. Available from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/vaginal-yeast-infection-a-to-z