Period cramps, mood swings and lethargy — all strike you together when you get down. Add the irritation of a yeast infection to it, and it will seem like you are having a series of unpleasant experiences. It turns out that you can get a yeast infection before or during your periods. Many people believe that periods help to flush out a yeast infection. Let’s find out if it’s just a period myth or it is actually possible.
Health Shots consulted Dr Nagaveni R, Consultant – Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospitals, HRBR Layout, Bengaluru about the link between menstruation and a yeast infection.
What is a yeast infection?
If we want a healthy vagina, it is required to maintain a balance of bacteria and yeast cells. But when the balance is disrupted, the yeast cells may multiply leading to the formation of a vaginal yeast infection, also known as candidiasis, explains Dr Nagaveni.
Signs of a yeast infection during periods
Vaginal yeast infections tend to pop up during the week before you get your periods. But then fluctuating hormonal changes can trigger menstruation and imbalance in the mix of yeast and bacteria, so a yeast infection can happen during periods too.
Symptoms of a yeast infection include:
• Thick and white vaginal discharge
• Irritation and itchiness
• Burning or discomfort while peeing
• Swelling or redness in the vulva
• Vaginal soreness and inflammation
Do periods flush out a yeast infection
Yes, there is an evident correlation between menstruation and a yeast infection. The expert says that when there is a temporary change in the vaginal pH levels, the vagina can become an unfavourable place for the yeast to grow. So, this environment helps to kill the existing yeast cells and prevent the growth of new ones. But she says that even though the onset of periods temporarily clears the yeast infection, you will be needing further help to support your body’s natural defense mechanism to cure a yeast infection. She also shares that while you are down, using sanitary products like tampons can increase the risk of worsening a yeast infection. That’s because tampons can trap moisture which creates an ideal environment for yeast cells to grow.
Treating a yeast infection during periods
Yes, your period can clear up the yeast infection as it raises the vaginal pH. That in turn decreases the number of yeast cells. But you can always go for antifungal medications in the form of ointments, creams, or even oral medications. These can be prescribed by your doctor to you for a certain number of days.
Maintaining vaginal hygiene is also very important. When you experience a yeast infection alongside your period, it is important to consciously avoid a few habits such as wearing tight or dirty underwear, vaginal douching, or taking hot baths as it facilitates yeast production.
You can also do the following to treat a yeast infection:
• Eat probiotics like yogurt that helps to multiply good bacteria
• Change sanitary napkins from time to time to avoid infection and pad rash
• Keeping your vagina clean
• Hydration helps to flush out toxins and bacteria and maintain pH balance, so drink up
• Stop using scented products as they can disrupt the pH level of the vagina and cause irritation
• Avoid foods rich in sugar and spice as they facilitate the yeast’s ability to grow in your body