6 Things That Increase Your Risk of a Yeast Infection

Some of these are within your control.

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To put it bluntly, yeast infections suck. They burn, they itch, and they’ll have you dropping everything and calling your doctor.

These annoying infections are caused by an overgrowth of Candida, which is a fungus that lives in small amounts on your body (including in the vagina). However, if Candida grows out of control, you’ve got yourself a yeast infection. In fact, another name for this infection is vaginal candidiasis.

Vaginal yeast infections are really common, and they’re tough to prevent entirely—but there are a few things that can increase your risk:

1. Douching

You probably know by now that douching comes with more risks than benefits; however, one in five women between the ages of 15 and 44 continue to practice douching, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

This discredited way of “cleaning” the vagina actually messes with the balance of bacteria. The loss of good bacteria means your body is less able to control yeast levels, leaving you vulnerable to infections like candidiasis and even sexually transmitted infections.

2. Pregnancy

The body is undergoing massive bodily and hormonal changes during pregnancy, and you may have more sugar in vaginal secretions. Yeast feed on sugar, so yeast infections can be more common during this time. (Similarly, yeast infections are also more common during your period.)

3. Diabetes

Those with diabetes have a higher risk for *all* types of fungal and bacterial infections, and yeast infections are no exception. A combination of high blood sugar levels and poor circulation may weaken the immune system, so the ability to fight off infections is blunted.

Luckily, good diabetes management and blood sugar control can help reduce the risk of yeast infections. Learn more about managing diabetes complications here.

4. Some types of hormonal birth control

Like with pregnancy, the changes in hormones can disturb your natural balance. If you’re prone to frequent yeast infections, be sure to ask your doctor about the yeast infection risk of different birth control methods, and work with them to choose a method that isn’t known to affect yeast infection risk.

5. Antibiotics

Antibiotics are important treatments for some infections, but unfortunately, they may sometimes kill off healthy bacteria in the vagina that normally help to control yeast levels. In other words, yeast infections may be an unfortunate side effect of a necessary treatment.

6. A weakened immune system

Beyond diabetes, there are a number of reasons someone can have a weakened immune system, which can inhibit their ability to fight off infections. Some common causes of a weakened immune system include human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), chemotherapy, steroids, or certain treatments for autoimmune diseases.

Get frequent yeast infections—and you don’t know why? Consult your doctor to pinpoint the culprit for Candida overgrowth.