Risk Factors for a Yeast Infection

Candida albicans is the most common causative agent of the yeast infection; however other species of the genus candida may also cause this disease in rare cases. Although exact reasons for yeast infection development are unclear, there are a number of factors linked to this condition:

  • Antibiotic usage – research shows that up to 30% of women receiving oral antibiotic therapy will develop vaginal candidiasis.3 This happens due to systemic effect of oral antibiotic therapy, causing the death of all susceptible organisms throughout the body. The population of lactic bacteria normally living in the vaginal region is reduced by antibiotics, and excessive growth of candida fungi is seen as the result.
  • High estrogen levels – may be resulting from combined oral contraceptive use or pregnancy. Numerous laboratory studies have demonstrated that estrogen administration alters the pH balance in the vagina and enhances the growth of the candida colonies. When the levels of estrogen in the women’s body are increased (for example by COC usage) the risk of developing a yeast infection is higher.
  • Diaphragm and spermicide usage – spermicides and diaphragm gel are capable of irritating the vaginal lining and disturbing the growth of natural vaginal flora. As the result, developing yeast infection is more likely when using these contraceptive methods.
  • Intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUD) are identified to be a significant risk factor for vaginal candidiasis development and, potentially, for recurrent infection. Research suggests that IUD acts as reservoirs for the candida albicans, as the fungi are able to form colonies on any part of the device.4
  • Immunocompromising disorders – diseases like diabetes mellitus or HIV have a negative effect on the body’s immune system and lower the natural defense against fungal overgrowth, increasing the risks of yeast infection development.
  • Behavioral risk factors – including young age of first intercourse or frequent sexual intercourse. Although it is not entirely clear how these factors contribute to candidiasis development, research suggests that they do increase the risk of getting a yeast infection.1