Are you at risk of a yeast infection? Since 75% of women will have at least one yeast infection in their lifetime, the answer is yes. Yeast infections are most common when a woman is in her 20s, 30s, and 40s.

How do you get yeast infections?

Since yeast naturally occurs on your body, you don't "catch" a yeast infection like you would catch a cold. Yeast infections are caused by an inbalance which leads to an upset in the normal functioning of thetissues in the vagina, as follows:

  • Normally, your vagina has a number of different healthy bacteria living in it, and it may also have yeast.
  • The yeast is kept under control by the healthy bacteria in your vagina. These bacteria keep your vagina slightly acidic which prevents Candida from growing too much. The yeast doesn't usually cause any problems unless something happens to upset this balance.
  • If the balance is upset, the yeast can overgrow, causing a yeast infection.

What upsets the balance?

  • hormonal changes
  • medications, especially antibiotics
  • certain medical conditions
  • a weakened immune system

Could I be at risk?

Although any woman can get a yeast infection, some women are more at risk, including those who:

  • have increased estrogen levels (e.g., due to birth control pills or pregnancy)
  • have diabetes
  • have poorly functioning immune systems (e.g., because of HIV/AIDS, cancer or cancer medications, or transplant medications)
  • have poor toilet habits (e.g. wipe back to front)
  • are taking certain medications (e.g., steroids, certain antibiotics)
  • wear tight clothing
  • use contraceptive sponges, diaphragms with spermicide, or IUDs

If you have any of these risk factors, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about how you can reduce your risk of yeast infections. Fill out our "Doctor Discussion Guide" to help you prepare for your doctor visit.

Written and reviewed by the MediResource Clinical Team