Understanding the Causes of Yeast Infection

Yeast infection or candidiasis, which may develop in the mouth, vagina, or other moist areas of the skin, is caused by the fungus known as Candida albicans. When Candida infects the vagina, it is called genital or vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC); when the infection occurs in the mouth, on the other hand, it is medically known as “oral thrush” or oropharyngeal candidiasis.

Yeast organisms are normally found in the body, especially in the mouth, throat, rectal and vaginal areas. Usually, Candida is a normal inhabitant of the body and causes no harm. This fungus causes problems only when they are present in high numbers. But, what causes yeast infections, or more accurately, what are the factors that increase a person’s risk of developing candidiasis, in general? Antibiotic therapy, frequent douching, steroid therapy, diabetes, pregnancy, oral contraceptives, obesity, and conditions that weaken the immune system are some of the most common factors associated with the development of yeast infection.

1) Antibiotics

When it comes to the causes of yeast infection, antibiotics are probably the most common. The problem with antibiotics is that they not only kill unwanted bacteria, but also destroy the good bacteria that normally keep yeast levels down. Say for example you take an antibiotic to treat an upper respiratory tract infection. The antibiotic gets rid of the pathogenic bacteria in your upper airways, but can also wipe out the healthy bacteria in your genital area. This disturbs the normal flora of the vagina which, in turn, allows the yeast to take over. Frequent douching can likewise have the same effect.

2) Steroids

Candida albicans, as with most pathogens, is an opportunistic organism. When the body is out of balance and vulnerable, Candida finds this as an opportunity to cause damage, both internally and externally. Corticosteroids, or steroids for short, are drugs that cause immunosuppression. That is, they weaken the immune system and leave it vulnerable. Because long-term use of steroids can suppress the immune system, individuals who are on steroid therapy are more prone at developing yeast infections than others.

3) Diabetes

Many are curious – why do women with diabetes tend to be more prone at developing vaginal yeast infections? While statistics show that around the majority of women will experience at least one yeast infection in their lifetime, those suffering from diabetes are especially susceptible. Yeast organisms that normally thrive in the vagina are kept under control by the vagina’s acidic environment. In women who have diabetes, vaginal secretions contain more sugar. Because yeast organisms find nourishment in the carbohydrate-rich vaginal secretions, they are able to multiply rapidly and cause infection in the area. In addition, diabetes affects the body’s immune functions, thereby increasing the likelihood of infection.

4) Hormone Imbalance

According to research, situations that cause hormonal imbalance, such as pregnancy and taking birth control pills, can trigger yeast infections. Studies have shown that it does not matter which is in excess, although excess estrogen is more likely to cause Candidiasis than excess in progesterone. When there is hormone imbalance, the body makes an effort to pull the excess hormones out of the blood and stores them in the intestinal tract. It does this to regulate the amount of hormone in the blood that can enter the cells throughout the body. Fluctuations in hormones have been found to negatively affect the good bacteria in the intestines. As a result, Candida multiplies and outnumbers the good bacteria.

5) Obesity

In general, there are two reasons why obese women get more vaginal yeast infections, and why both overweight men and women suffer more from skin rashes and oral thrush. The first reason is purely physical, while the second one has something to do with hormones.

As mentioned earlier, Candida loves warm, moist areas. Because folds of fat provide the ideal conditions for yeast organisms, overweight individuals are more prone at getting yeast infections. Meanwhile, it is a known fact that obesity is one of the major risk factors for various medical conditions such as type II diabetes and hormonal imbalances. Again, these two health issues make an individual vulnerable to yeast infections.

There are many causes of yeast infection, although the ones discussed above are the most common. Remember, eliminating these risk factors decreases a person’s tendency to develop yeast infections so it’s very important to know the causes of yeast infection and ultimately avoid them.

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