5 Surprising Causes of Yeast Infections

Women's Health | | INTIMINA
4 min read

Vaginal and yeast infections are something no one looks forward to, yet they are something a lot of our readers deal with. To help, we’re answering some questions we receive regularly, like: Can wearing pads every day cause a yeast infection? Can panty liners cause thrush? Can wearing panty liners cause yeast infections? Those are just some of them, but it helped us figure out what actually worries you the most, and to help you educate yourself about this problem.

Yeast infections, though not the most serious of ailments, can bring down the best of us. The itching and burning that accompany these infections make it difficult for anyone to maintain some semblance of composure and sanity while going about their lives.

Unfortunately, the odds are not on the side of those with vaginas, as approximately 75% of you will experience at least one yeast infection during their lifetime, and some unlucky people experience multiple in one year. (It should be noted, however, that only 5-8% of people will officially have ‘recurring yeast infections,’ which is defined as four or more per year.)

What causes yeast infection?

Your vagina’s ecosystem is composed of a very delicate balance of a small number of yeast cells and a larger amount of “good” bacteria, usually, the strain Lactobacillus acidophilus, which keeps the yeast cells in check, all while maintaining its ideal acidic pH.  Yeast infections can occur when that balance is thrown off and there is an overgrowth of yeast cells.  Yeast also thrives on sugar and warm, moist environments.  Furthermore, irritation to the vaginal tissue can essentially cause micro-tears, increasing vulnerability to infection.

There are a few usual suspects when it comes to potential causes of yeast infection, such as antibiotics, douching, and a weak immune system, but the following may be a bit more surprising to learn about.

  1. Excessive alcohol consumption: In addition to having the ability to kill off the good bacteria in your body, alcohol contains large amounts of sugar and yeast, both prime contributors to yeast infections. Just another good reason to slow down the Chardonnay consumption on a big night out.
  2. Scented tampons: Scented tampons: Products meant to “deodorize” your vagina, along with seemingly harmless toiletries and household items (bubble bath, scented soaps, scented laundry detergent), can actually do a lot more harm than good. These items are loaded with chemicals that can irritate your vagina and vulva, upsettingthe natural pH balance. If you are prone to infections, avoid using anything with added fragrances near your vagina and consider switching to a menstrual cup that is made from medical grade silicone and won’t upset that harmonious balance that your vagina works so hard to preserve.
  3. Daily use of panty liners:  As mentioned earlier, yeast love moist, warm environments, and since panty liners block airflow to the vagina, the area becomes the perfect incubator for yeast growth. Keep panty liner use to a minimum and wear breathable cotton underwear to keep yeast at bay.
  4. Spermicidal condoms: Kudos for using protection, but the spermicide on some condoms unfortunately contains yet another potential irritant for your vagina. Rather stick to regular condoms with a latex compatible lubricant to lessen the risk of tearing.
  5. Low estrogen levels: Estrogen feeds the aforementioned good bacteria, keeping it strong to fight off bad bacteria and the growth of too much yeast.  However, estrogen levels dip just before your period and during menopause, so the good bacteria are sometimes unable to control yeast cells.  Women often find themselves with yeast infections just before their periods for this very reason.

It’s important to be mindful of these hidden causes of yeast infections, especially if you are experiencing recurrent infections, so you can do your best to prevent these uncomfortable episodes. 

Small changes to your daily routine can do big things for your vaginal health. If addressing these possible causes doesn’t have an effect and you think you might still have a yeast infection, please talk to your doctor.

The treatment is not complicated, but there are a lot of conditions that can mimic a yeast infection. Using over-the-counter treatments for the wrong condition can worsen the discomfort you’re experiencing.

Please note that advice offered by Intimina may not be relevant to your individual case. For specific concerns regarding your health, always consult your physician or other licensed medical practitioners.

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