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Causes of Recurrent Yeast Infections

by
author image Jaime Herndon
Jaime Herndon has been writing for health websites since 2009 and has guest-blogged on SheKnows. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and women's studies, she earned a Master of Science in clinical health psychology and a Master of Public Health in maternal-child health. Her interests include oncology, women's health and exercise science.
Causes of Recurrent Yeast Infections
Woman talking to doctor Photo Credit KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images

Overview

Womenshealth.gov estimates that approximately 5 percent of women experience recurrent yeast infections, defined as more than four infections in one year. Recurrent yeast infections are called recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis, and are typically found in women who are diabetic or immunocompromised from diseases like Lyme disease or HIV, although many other women experience chronic yeast infections due to other causes.

Frequent Antibiotic Use

Antibiotics not only kill the bacteria that is causing an infection, but they also kill naturally occurring good flora in our bodies. This can increase susceptibility to yeast infections, especially if you take antibiotics frequently. Sometimes other medications can also kill the good bacteria, like corticosteroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, says stdsandyou.com. According to womenshealthcaretopics.com, one way to prevent recurring yeast infections when you take antibiotics is to take lactobacillus tablets, which can help restore healthy flora.

Chemicals

According to the vaginal yeast infection page at msu.edu, chemicals like dyes, perfumes and soaps can interfere with your vagina's natural flora and cause yeast infections. Douching is an example; when you douche, you kill the good bacteria that helps control yeast overgrowth. The New York Times also suggests avoiding douching, and when washing the vaginal area, using only water, and no soap. The laundry detergent you use to wash your clothes may be a culprit of chronic yeast infections; trying different brands, especially fragrance-free detergents, might be the solution. Other instances where you might come into chemicals that can cause yeast infections includes bubble baths, using scented tampons and using feminine deodorant sprays.

Weakened Immune System

Diabetes, HIV, Lyme disease and other medical conditions can all weaken the immune system, increasing the risk of chronic yeast infections. High levels of stress can also weaken the immune system, making you more vulnerable to chronic yeast infections. Keeping your blood sugar under control if you have diabetes can help minimize this risk; typically, if you are experiencing chronic and persistent yeast infections, various tests will be performed to diagnose any underlying medical cause, says the New York Times.

Clothing

Sometimes clothing can promote chronic yeast infections. Tight-fitting pants or shorts and silk or nylon underwear can all contribute to yeast infections because these types of clothing restrict and reduce air flow in the vaginal area and can increase sweating, causing irritation, says the New York Times. Changing your underwear daily, avoiding pantyhose, wearing cotton underwear and not sleeping in underwear can all help reduce the chances of having recurrent yeast infections.

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