The Birth Control–Yeast Infection Connection (2023)

A vaginal yeast infection, also known as candidiasis, is a common infection, and most women will have one at some point in their lives. A yeast infection occurs when there is an overgrowth of the Candida fungus in the vagina. Symptoms include burning, itching, and a thick, white discharge that affect the vagina and vulva.

Using certain types of birth control can put a person at higher risk for developing a vaginal yeast infection due to their effect on the vagina's balance of bacteria and yeast. Fortunately, many yeast infections can be easily treated at home, and some can even be prevented.

The Birth Control–Yeast Infection Connection (1)

Ways Birth Control Increases Yeast Infection Risk

There are several factors that can affect your risk of developing a yeast infection. Pregnancy, hormone therapy, uncontrolled diabetes, immunosuppression, and antibiotic use can all contribute to a yeast infection. In addition, birth control like oral contraceptives, intrauterine devices, spermicide, and condoms can increase your chances of getting one as well.

Hormonal Birth Control

Hormonal birth control does not cause yeast infections, but it can increase the risk of getting them. This type of birth control contains estrogen, which stops ovulation and prevents the woman’s egg from being fertilized by the sperm.

It can come in the form of a daily oral pill, vaginal ring (replaced monthly), skin patches (replaced monthly), injections (given every three months), or an intrauterine device (changed every three to 10 years depending on the brand).Not all types of hormonal contraception can increase the risk of yeast infections.

A 2017 study found that women who use either oral contraceptives or the levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system are at increased risk for developing yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis (vaginal inflammation caused by the overgrowth ofbacteria in the vagina), and trichomoniasis (a sexually transmitted disease, or STD, caused by a parasite). The increased risk is highest within the first month of starting the birth control method and decreases over time.

Studies have shown that women who use the levonorgestrel intrauterine system are at higher risk of vaginal infections than women who use other types of birth control. Because hormonal birth control can increase your risk for other types of vaginal infections as well, it's important to talk with your healthcare provider if you suspect you have developed an infection. Your practititioner will be able to diagnose your infection and prescribe the appropriate treatment.

Hormonal birth control can lead to other vaginal changes too. A 2013 study found that users of the ethylene-vinyl acetate vaginal ring may experience an increase in vaginal discharge. While it is possible for Candida yeasts to adhere to the ring, there is no evidence that women who use it experience more yeast infections than women who use other methods of birth control.

Spermicide

Other methods of birth control include spermicides, condoms, diaphragms, and sponges. While spermicidal products do not raise a woman’s estrogen level, they can still affect the vagina’s balance of bacteria and yeast. The vagina contains healthy bacteria known as lactobacilli. When these bacteria are killed by antibiotics or spermicidal jellies and creams, the bacteria can no longer keep the Candida yeast under control and the yeast starts to overgrow.

It’s important to note that medications for vaginal yeast infections can make spermicides less effective. Talk with your gynecologist about other birth control options when you are taking an antifungal medication.

6 Types of Spermicide and How to Use Them

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Prevention

Even if your birth control places you at higher risk of a yeast infection, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. Prevention methods involve keeping your vagina’s balance of bacteria and yeast at a healthy level.

To prevent a yeast infection, it’s important to:

  • Choose underwear that is made from breathable cotton and is not too tight.
  • Keep your vagina clean and dry, making sure to change out of wet clothes or a bathing suit right away.
  • Avoid douching and using any vaginal products with perfumes or dyes.
  • Change your pads and tampons frequently.
  • Always wipe from front to back when using the bathroom.
  • Avoid sitting in a hot tub or very hot bath for too long.
  • If you have diabetes, take precautions to keep your blood sugar level under control.
  • Eat foods rich in probiotics like yogurt or other fermented foods.

Home Treatments

A vaginal yeast infection will not resolve on its own and needs to be treated with an antifungal medication. There are many options available over the counter, and they may come in the form of creams, ointments, or vaginal suppositories. There are also natural supplements that claim to treat yeast infections, but they have not been proven effective.

The treatment course may require one dose or take up to seven days depending on the brand and method. Over-the-counter options include:

  • Gynazole, Femstat 3 (butoconazole)
  • Terazol (terconazole)
  • Vagistat-1 (tioconazole)
  • Monistat (miconazole)
  • Gyne-Lotrimin (clotrimazole)

Your healthcare provider may also recommend a onetime oral dose of prescription antifungal medication, such as Diflucan (fluconazole).

If you suspect you are experiencing a yeast infection while pregnant, talk with your obstetrician. While many over-the-counter products are safe to use during pregnancy, oral fluconazole has been linked to birth defects.

When to Call a Healthcare Provider

If you’re unsure whether you have a yeast infection, see your healthcare provider before treating it. Using antifungal treatments when you do not need them can upset the balance of normal flora in the vagina, which could lead to other symptoms.

Most cases of yeast infection can be safely treated at home. However, if over-the-counter products do not provide relief, talk with your practitioner. There are other infections that have the same symptoms as yeast infections, so your healthcare provider may need to see you to provide the right diagnosis and treatment. It’s estimated that up to two-thirds of women who buy over-the-counter yeast infection treatments do not have a yeast infection.

If you find that you are experiencing recurring yeast infections, talk with your healthcare provider. Your practitioner will test to confirm if your symptoms are due to a yeast infection and can prescribe medications to reduce your likelihood of getting recurrent infections. It’s also possible that you may be experiencing recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis (RVVC), which affects about 5% of women and requires prescription antifungal medication.

(Video) Debunking top myths about birth control pills | GMA Digital

How Vaginal Yeast Infection Is Treated

7 Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Office on Women’s Health. Vaginal yeast infections.

  2. Gonçalves B, Ferreira C, Alves CT, Henriques M, Azeredo J, Silva S. Vulvovaginal candidiasis: Epidemiology, microbiology and risk factors. Crit Rev Microbiol. 2016 Nov;42(6):905-27. doi:10.3109/1040841X.2015

    (Video) Can Birth Control Be The Cause Of My Candida Yeast Infection?

  3. Office on Women’s Health. Birth control methods.

  4. Rezk M, Sayyed T, Masood A, Dawood R. Risk of bacterial vaginosis, Trichomonas vaginalis and Candida albicans infection among new users of combined hormonal contraception vs LNG-IUS. Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2017 Oct;22(5):344-348. doi:10.1080/13625187.2017.1365835

  5. Donders GG, Berger J, Heuninckx H, Bellen G, Cornelis A. Vaginal flora changes on Pap smears after insertion of levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine device. Contraception. 2011 Apr;83(4):352-6. doi:10.1016/j.contraception.2010.08.007

  6. Lete I, Cuesta MC, Marín JM, Guerra S. Vaginal health in contraceptive vaginal ring users - A review. Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2013 Aug;18(4):234-41. doi:10.3109/13625187.2013.801954

  7. Healthy Women. Overview.

Additional Reading

The Birth Control–Yeast Infection Connection (2)

By Carrie Madormo, RN, MPH
Carrie Madormo, RN, MPH, is a health writer with over a decade of experience working as a registered nurse. She has practicedin a variety of settings including pediatrics, oncology, chronic pain, and public health.

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FAQs

Can the pill cause Candida overgrowth? ›

Conclusions. The results of the present study demonstrate that oral contraceptives containing estradiol can lead to Candida colonization in the oral cavity. It is recommended that further studies comparing the influence of oral contraceptives on Candida's adherence to the epithelium is highly recommended.

Should I stop taking birth control if I have a yeast infection? ›

In some women, hormonal changes are due to taking birth control pills. If you think that taking birth control pills is causing your yeast infection, DO NOT STOP TAKING THE BIRTH CONTROL, as this will not cure your infection.

Can birth control throw off your pH balance? ›

Hormonal birth control has not been shown to cause infections, but for some women, it can change the pH balance of the vagina and make them more prone to overgrowth of yeast or Bacterial Vaginosis (BV.) Both of which can cause dryness, irritation and itching.

Can birth control pills cause yeast overgrowth? ›

Many birth control pills, the patch, and the vaginal ring all contain a combination of estrogen and progestin. Progestin is a synthetic version of progesterone. These methods disrupt your body's natural balance of estrogen and progesterone. This can lead to yeast overgrowth.

Why do I keep getting yeast infections? ›

A lack of regular hygiene practices, such as daily showers and brushing your teeth, or a constantly damp environment can also lead to chronic yeast infections. You're also at risk of recurring yeast infections if you have a weakened immune system.

How long does a yeast infection go away after taking the pill? ›

Prescription azole treatment typically lasts between 7–14 days. The yeast infection should clear up within this period. Doctors may also prescribe a single or multidose oral medication called fluconazole.

Will my period flush out a yeast infection? ›

Sometimes, when estrogen levels go back down during menstruation, the yeast infection will clear up. Since hormonal balance can affect the likelihood of getting a yeast infection, it's less likely — though still possible — to get a yeast infection before puberty or after menopause.

What are signs that your pH balance is off? ›

Some of these symptoms include:
  • Strong, fish-like smell coming from your vagina.
  • Grey, green, or foamy vaginal discharge.
  • Itching around the vagina.
  • Swelling and irritation around the vagina.
  • Pain or burning feeling in the vagina during sex.
  • Burning sensation while urinating.
25 Apr 2021

How do you know if your body is rejecting birth control? ›

You are advised to use alternative methods of contraception during the changeover, as it may take a short time for the new pill to take effect.
  • Irregular or excessive bleeding. ...
  • Nausea. ...
  • Skin Changes. ...
  • Headaches. ...
  • Difficulty concentrating. ...
  • Mood Swings. ...
  • Hair loss. ...
  • Recognising severe side effects.

Can low estrogen cause 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.

Can certain pills cause yeast infections? ›

Antibiotics are notorious for causing yeast infections, says Dr. Weinreb. “Every type of antibiotic can cause vaginal yeast infection because antibiotics reduce your body's natural bacterial flora, which has antifungal properties, giving more space for fungi like candida to grow,” says Weinreb.

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.

What hormones cause yeast infections? ›

High levels of estrogen cause Candida fungi to overgrow. Because of this, it's common to get a yeast infection around the time of your period. Some people get yeast infections around the same time of their cycle every month, a condition called cyclic vulvovaginitis.

What foods cause yeast infections? ›

Yeast is most commonly found in processed sugars, gluten-based foods and grains (a candida diet is recommended for people who have a yeast infection). In addition to this, it is also recommended to stay away from meat and starchy vegetables like potatoes and carrots and avoid excessive consumption of alcohol.

How can you test for yeast infection at home? ›

Diagnosing a Yeast Infection: Signs to Look for

Thick, white discharge (the texture of cottage cheese) Burning feeling especially when peeing or having sex. Vaginal pain, redness and swelling.

What is the fastest way to get rid of a yeast infection? ›

The best treatment to get rid of most yeast infections comes down to medicated creams or a pill. Studies show that these creams and the oral pill, fluconazole, both work more than 90% of the time. Uncomplicated yeast infections usually respond to treatment within a couple of days.

Does a yeast infection smell? ›

It's a common vaginal condition that can cause vaginal odor. Trichomoniasis, a sexually transmitted infection, also can lead to vaginal odor. A yeast infection usually doesn't cause vaginal odor.

How do I know my yeast infection is gone? ›

When will I feel better? — Most yeast infections go away within a few days of starting treatment. However, you may continue to feel itchy and irritated, even after the infection is gone. If you do not get better within a few days after finishing treatment, call your doctor or nurse for advice.

Can a tampon soak up yeast? ›

If you have vaginal discharge (like a yeast infection discharge) that's not related to your period, don't use a tampon to absorb it. A pantyliner is your best bet. Wear cotton underwear, which helps with air circulation and can help keep vaginal yeast from over-growing.

What throws off a girl pH balance? ›

Unprotected sex: Seminal fluid is alkaline, and it can temporarily increase the vaginal's pH levels. Antibiotics: You may take antibiotics to get rid of the harmful bacteria, but these medications can also kill good bacteria, including those in your vagina. As a result, this can cause a vaginal pH imbalance.

Does cranberry juice help your pH balance? ›

You've probably heard that drinking cranberry juice reduces your chances of developing urinary tract infections, but it also wards off vaginal infections. Compounds in cranberries could balance the vagina's pH level, and its acidic property helps fight bacteria that cause infections.

Do probiotics help with pH balance? ›

Probiotics can help restore the natural balance of bacteria throughout the body. This could help rebalance vaginal pH levels and combat vaginal infections. A 2019 meta-analysis notes that probiotics can prevent the bacteria associated with bacterial vaginosis (BV) from growing inside the vagina.

How will my body react if I stop taking birth control? ›

When people stop using birth control, they may experience side effects, including irregular menstrual cycles, cramping, acne, and weight changes.

Can birth control cause creamy white discharge? ›

Birth control — Birth control alters your hormone levels, which can lead to increased white discharge. This white discharge is a normal side effect of hormonal birth control. Pregnancy — Discharge from pregnancy is usually thicker and creamier than normal.

How do you know if I should change my birth control? ›

5 signs it's time to switch birth control methods
  1. You're not happy with the side effects. It's fairly common to have some side effects, like nausea, when you start a new method. ...
  2. You keep forgetting to take your pill. ...
  3. Your period situation is not working. ...
  4. You're nervous that you're not protected. ...
  5. Your needs have changed.
24 Sept 2018

Can stress trigger 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.

Can birth control cause overgrowth of bacteria? ›

Using certain types of birth control can put a person at higher risk for developing a vaginal yeast infection due to their effect on the vagina's balance of bacteria and yeast.

What is the root cause of Candida overgrowth? ›

Overgrowth is caused by the introduction of a foreign chemical into a patient's body. Steroids, antibiotics, and alcohol have all been known to cause candida syndrome. Other causes include birth control pills, estrogen replacement therapy, acute and chronic stress, recreational drugs, chemotherapy, and a poor diet.

What medications cause Candida overgrowth? ›

Are Your Medications Causing Yeast Infections?
  • Oral Contraceptives. Birth control pills may lead to women developing yeast infections because they increase estrogen levels in a woman's body. ...
  • Antibiotics. ...
  • Steroids. ...
  • Chemotherapy. ...
  • Talking to Your Doctor About Yeast Infection Risk.
5 Apr 2011

Can too much estrogen cause Candida? ›

Women with high estrogen levels have an increased risk of developing genital thrush caused by Candida albicans.

Can birth control make you more prone to infections? ›

All forms of birth control that contain progestin or estrogen hormones can increase your risk of developing a yeast infection. This means you could also have a higher risk if you use the patch, ring, the hormonal IUD or the Depo-Provera® birth control injection.

What diseases can you get from birth control? ›

What are the risks of birth control pills? Even though birth control pills are very safe, using the combination pill can slightly increase your risk of health problems. Complications are rare, but they can be serious. These include heart attack, stroke, blood clots, and liver tumors.

Why do I constantly keep getting BV? ›

Causes. Although the exact cause of BV isn't clear, experts believe that sex is a contributing factor. Unprotected sex, sex with a new partner, and sex with multiple partners may alter the balance of bacteria in the vagina. Other practices, such as douching, may also increase your risk of BV.

How do you feel when you have Candida? ›

Symptoms of vaginal candidiasis include redness, swelling, itching, painful intercourse, and a thick, white discharge from the vagina ( 16 ). Although not common, Candida can also cause a urinary tract infection (UTI).

What gets rid of Candida naturally? ›

In addition to diet and lifestyle changes, Dr. Wallman often recommends using herbal supplements like oregano oil and garlic extract to help restore the balance of the yeast. “The herbal supplements have a lot of anti-yeast and antifungal properties to them,” she says.

Will probiotics get rid of Candida? ›

In therapeutic terms, probiotics are known to reduce Candida infections in different organ systems of the human body, and are generally considered to be beneficial for overall health.

What antibiotics kills Candida? ›

Fluconazole is an antifungal medicine. It's used to treat infections caused by different kinds of fungus. The most common cause of fungal infections is a yeast called candida.

How long does it take to clear up Candida? ›

​How long does it take for Candida infections go away? Once treatment starts, most candidiasis infections get better within about 2 weeks. It is not uncommon for infections to return, however.

Can hormone imbalance cause recurring yeast infection? ›

Causes of Yeast Infections

Other common causes include stress, lack of sleep, and uncontrolled blood sugar if you have diabetes. Hormone imbalances may also be a risk factor for yeast infections. Hormones can have a pretty big impact on your vagina's delicate microbiome.

Can hormone imbalance cause fungal infection? ›

FUNGAL INFECTIONS OCCURING IN ENDOCRINE DISORDERS

Individuals with certain endocrine disorders such as diabetes mellitus and Cushing's syndrome are predisposed to fungal infections as a result of the associated immune dysfunction. Both pathogenic and opportunistic fungi can cause infection in these conditions.

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