By Alice || Edited by Go Ask Alice Editorial Team || Last edited Feb 09, 2024
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Cite this Response

Alice! Health Promotion. "Why do I get a yeast infection every time I have my period?." Go Ask Alice!, Columbia University, 09 Feb. 2024, https://goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/why-do-i-get-yeast-infection-every-time-i-have-my-period. Accessed 15, Jun. 2024.

Alice! Health Promotion. (2024, February 09). Why do I get a yeast infection every time I have my period?. Go Ask Alice!, https://goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/why-do-i-get-yeast-infection-every-time-i-have-my-period.

Dear Alice,

I am a 26-year-old female and have started getting a yeast infection every month without fail at the end of my period. This started about a year ago and I've cut back on eating bread, I don't eat much sugar and I rarely drink beer. I read online that someone recommended using a douche just before and after starting my period. Is this a reasonable thing to try? I've always been very opposed to douching but I'm sick of the itching and don't want to have to take medication or use cream every month. Any suggestions?

Dear Reader, 

Yeast infections sure can be a beast, and it sounds like you’re having a hard time taming this one. Given the recurring nature of your infection and the fact that yeast infections can sometimes be confused for other conditions, you may want to speak with a health care professional to get to the bottom of your situation. If you’re interested in learning more information about yeast infections, why they’re common around the time of your period, and tips for preventing them—read on! 

Yeast infections happen when there’s an overgrowth of an otherwise naturally occurring and harmless yeast in the vagina. When there’s too much yeast, you can experience the unpleasant symptoms of a yeast infection—vaginal itching, burning while peeing, and "cheesy" white vaginal discharge. There are many reasons that vaginal yeast can go from being within the normal range to overpowering other vaginal flora. Some of those reasons can include antibiotic use, stress, vaginal pH being off-balance, certain medical conditions (like diabetes), and hormonal changes (which can happen due to birth control use, pregnancy, or menstruation). 

During menstruation, levels of hormones like estrogen and progesterone change drastically. Among the list of responsibilities, these hormones are in charge of maintaining the appropriate balance of vaginal yeast. This means that when you’re on your period and the levels of these hormones fluctuate, the makeup of vaginal yeast changes and you may be more susceptible to yeast infections. Additionally, there are also two lifestyle-related period habits that could be the cause of your monthly infections. First, yeast likes to grow when there’s an abundance of moisture. This means that you might be getting frequent infections if you don’t change your pad, tampon, or underwear often enough. Second, the type of product you use may also impact how prone you are to yeast infections. Scented menstrual products can aggravate the vagina and trigger yeast infections. 

It must be frustrating that you’ve tried so many things to no avail. It may be important to point out that some of what you’ve tried might not be helping, in fact it may even be making matters worse. Contrary to what you’ve read online, douching is not recommended as a process overall. Douching, perfumed sprays, and overzealous cleansing interfere with the vagina's natural self-cleaning process and create a hospitable environment for yeast to flourish. You also mentioned cutting down on sugary foods and carbs. While these restrictions certainly won’t hurt you and might even make you feel healthier overall, they haven’t been proven to help prevent yeast infections. 

Since you’ve treated what you believe to be a yeast infection over and over with no results. However, it’s also possible you might not be dealing with a yeast infection in the first place. Yeast infections share similar symptoms with other infections like bacterial vaginosis and certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia and trichomoniasis. That said, each infection requires different treatment. Treating an infection with the wrong type of medication might explain why your symptoms haven’t improved. To confirm a diagnosis for the symptoms you’re experiencing, you might consider speaking with a health care provider. They can run the correct test to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms and find the proper treatment to end your monthly affliction once and for all. 

If you and your provider find that you do indeed have a yeast infection, you’ll likely be prescribed an antifungal medication. Since you mention that you don’t want to be on medication or use creams, reiterating this to a provider will be helpful so they can guide you through treatment options that will be suitable for you. In the meantime, you can help prevent any more yeast infections by changing out of damp or sweaty underwear and clothes and avoiding douching or using scented feminine products. 

Here’s hoping you find some relief soon! 

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