Can Birth Control Cause Yeast Infections
A yeast infection is caused by an overgrowth of candidiasis (a fungal agents) in the vaginal cavity. Although a certain amount of candida does exist within the vaginal region as a normal commensal of vagina (and serves several important functions), the colonization or overgrowth can pose the risk of certain complications. Certain factors can lead to an excess growth of candida in the genital tract such as medical health issues like diabetes or use of certain birth control or contraceptives. So can birth control cause yeast infections?
Hormonal Contraceptive options and Yeast overgrowth:
Hormonal contraceptives usually contain both progesterone and estrogen in calculated doses. However, exogenous intake of hormones may cause a disruption in the body’s hormonal balance as well as the equilibrium of microbiological flora; consequently, leading to the overgrowth of candida. In addition, estrogen consumption is also associated with an increased in the production of excess sugar within the vagina; sugar feeds the yeast, causing it to grow excessively.
Physical or Barrier Contraception:
It may sound surprising but some physical or barrier forms of contraception can also aggravate the risk of a yeast infection.
Vaginal creams or jellies can disturb the chemical balance of microflora (bacteria) that resides within the vagina. They can also increase the level of moisture thus creating an ideal environment for the growth of yeast.
Other physical forms of contraception, such as vaginal diaphragms, vaginal sponges, and intrauterine devices (IUDs), which are placed within the vagina can also cause yeast infections.
What are some other Risk Factors that may aggravate the risk of yeast infection?
- Some antibiotics: Excessive use of some antibiotics may end up eliminating the good bacteria along with harmful, disease-causing bacteria. This may result in a yeast infection.
- High, poorly controlled blood sugar concentration: Yeast and other fungal agents seems to thrive in sugar-rich environment. Therefore, individuals with high blood sugar levels are at a greater risk of developing a yeast infection.
- Immune dysfunction: Disorder of immune system may result in an inability to counter the onset of an infection, allowing it to grow exponentially.
- Pregnancy: When a woman is pregnant, high levels of estrogen become prevalent within the body. This helps create a conducive environment for the development of yeast infection.
- Sexual activity: This is not so much a cause as it is a way for the infection to spread from an infected partner to healthy contact.
What are some classic Symptoms of yeast infection in the setting of hormonal contraceptives?
- Whitish, thick curd like vaginal discharge
- Itchiness of vagina and localized discomfort
- Redness or swelling of the vulvar opening as well as vaginal cavity
- Burning around the vaginal opening that may lead to burning sensation during micturition
- Feeling of dryness or pain during sexual activity
Most yeast infections can easily be treated with over-the-counter medicines, such as pills and anti-fungal creams. It is necessary that one abstain from any sort of sexual activity while suffering from a yeast infection in order to avoid passing it on to their partner.
Also, certain medications prescribed for yeast infections may weaken certain forms of birth control, including latex condoms and diaphragms; thus, a reliable contraceptive intervention should be in place.
When to See a Doctor
In case over-the-counter medicines do not work or if you are developing recurrent episodes of yeast infections, is recommended to visit a doctor for a thorough medical evaluation.
The doctor may prescribe a stronger or a longer course of medicine to help get rid of the infection. In cases where the doctor suspects a particular form of birth control to be the culprit, he/she may prescribe another type of contraception or assist in doing so.
Other things that can be done to prevent yeast infections include:
- Try wearing non-irritating cotton underwear
- Avoid unnecessary use of antibiotics
- Make sure to change out of wet clothing (after a workout or swimming) immediately
- Avoiding steam baths or hot tubs
- Avoid irritants and use natural soaps
- Limit the intake of sugar from your diet
- Avoiding wearing tight underwear or pantyhose
- Keep the vaginal area clean and dry
- Always wipe from front to back (and not the other way around to minimize the risk of contaminating the vaginal cavity with microbes)
- Huang, Y., Merkatz, R. B., Hillier, S. L., Roberts, K., Blithe, D. L., Sitruk-Ware, R., & Creinin, M. D. (2015). Effects of a one year reusable contraceptive vaginal ring on vaginal microflora and the risk of vaginal infection: an open-label prospective evaluation. PloS one, 10(8), e0134460.