Very few studies have been done on endometriosis and yeast infection. Here’s what we know so far.
There might be a link between yeast infections and endometriosis, but there are very few studies on the topic.
Anecdotally, people with endometriosis often report having recurrent yeast infections, but there are no studies that look at whether yeast infections are more common among people with endometriosis.
Endometriosis isn’t recognized as a cause or risk factor for developing yeast infections.
A 2013 study concluded that Candida albicans, which can cause yeast infections, may increase endometrial cell production in people with endometriosis, although it has the opposite effect in people with no endometriosis.
This suggests yeast infections might worsen endometriosis in people who already have it. However, this study was very small — it was based on eight people.
The yeast Candida occurs naturally in the vaginal area. Lactobacillus bacteria stops it from overgrowing.
When there’s an imbalance in the vaginal area, the bacteria might not work effectively, leading to a Candida overgrowth — in other words, a vaginal yeast infection.
Most yeast infections are caused by Candida albicans, a specific type of yeast. However, other kinds of yeast may also cause an infection.
Yeast infections are
- antibiotics, which can decrease the “good” bacteria in the vagina
- diabetes, especially if it’s unmanaged or uncontrolled
- hormonal imbalances, particularly around your menstrual cycle
- having a weakened immune system
Yeast infections can, in some cases, be transmitted from one sexual partner to another. It might be wise to avoid partnered sexual activity or to use condoms if you or your partners have symptoms of a yeast infection.
Always clean your sex toys before and after use to avoid (re)infecting yourself or your partners.
The signs and symptoms of endometriosis include:
- anemia or low iron levels
- bleeding between periods
- heavy menstrual bleeding
- painful menstruation
- lower back pain, especially during menstruation
- painful bowel movements
- pain during penetrative sex
These symptoms can vary in intensity. It’s worth noting that you can have endometriosis even if you experience few or no symptoms.
Yeast infections might eventually go away on their own without treatment, but the symptoms can be very difficult to tolerate. If you have a yeast infection, it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional. Usually, yeast infections are easy to treat.
In the case of simple yeast infections, your clinician might prescribe a 1–6 day treatment regimen. This can include prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) antifungal creams, tablets, or suppositories.
Your doctor may determine that you have a severe or complicated case of yeast infections if you:
- have severe redness, swelling, and itching
- have had recurring yeast infections
- are pregnant
- have uncontrolled diabetes or a weak immune system from medication
- have HIV
If you have a severe or complicated yeast infection, it may be treated with the following:
- a 14-day treatment regimen
- several doses of fluconazole (Diflucan)
- long-term use of a topical antifungal medication
If you have recurring yeast infections, or if your symptoms aren’t getting better with medication, speak with a healthcare practitioner. It might be that a different type of medication will work better for you.
There are several precautions you can take to prevent yeast infections from occurring again.
You may find it beneficial to:
- Eat a well-balanced diet.
- Wash your underwear in hot water, without fragranced detergents.
- Wear breathable, loose-fitting underwear to prevent excess heat and moisture from collecting around your vulva.
- Avoid douching unless prescribed by a healthcare professional, as douching can kill healthy bacteria.
- Avoid using bath products like bath salts or bubble bath, as they can disrupt your natural bacteria.
- Avoid sitting in wet bathing suits, workout clothes, and underwear for too long, as yeast thrives in moist environments.
- Take steps to manage diabetes, as high blood sugar levels can encourage yeast to grow.
Yeast infections are often triggered by antibiotics, as antibiotics can kill off the “good bacteria” in your body. To prevent yeast infections while taking antibiotics, you can take probiotics or eat yogurt containing Lactobacillus acidophilus.
If you often get yeast infections, it might be wise to take note of potential triggers. Once you figure out what causes your yeast infections, you can either avoid those potential triggers (for example, avoiding scented bath salts) or take precautions to reduce your chances of developing an infection (for example, using probiotics whenever you need to take antibiotics).
It’s not always necessary to see a doctor when you get a yeast infection. You can purchase OTC antifungal creams that can treat the infection effectively.
However, you should make an appointment if:
- your symptoms aren’t responding to OTC medication
- you get recurrent yeast infections (4 or more infections a year)
- you have symptoms that aren’t common with yeast infections, such as a foul odor, which could be a symptom of a different condition
If you frequently get yeast infections, or if your yeast infection is not responding to the treatment prescribed by your clinician, you may benefit from speaking with a healthcare professional again. They might have to prescribe a different treatment regimen.
There’s no scientific literature to suggest that endometriosis can cause yeast infections. There’s little research on whether yeast infections are more common among people with endometriosis.
If you suspect you have a yeast infection, OTC medications may be helpful. If they don’t work, consider making an appointment with a healthcare professional.
Sian Ferguson is a freelance health and cannabis writer based in Cape Town, South Africa. She’s passionate about empowering readers to take care of their mental and physical health through science-based, empathetically delivered information.