Many women find they are prone to Candidiasis (yeast infections) just before or during their period. A major component of vaginal health is the pH of the environment.
In a healthy woman, vaginal pH is typically 3.5 to 4.5 which is slightly acidic. This acidic environment is caused by lactic acid mainly in the vaginal epithelium (cells). This lactic acid is anaerobically metabolized from glycogen deposited in this epithelium when a women’s estrogen levels are high. During the menstrual cycle, estrogen begins to rise immediately following the end of menses and spikes just days later during ovulation. Lactic acid is also produced by the good lacto-bacillus bacteria in the vagina which thrives on lower pH.
After ovulation, estrogen dips which raises the vaginal pH. This may negatively affect some of the good bacteria and creates an environment where bad bacteria and yeasts can grow. This cyclical pH change surrounding menstruation may be a major reason some women repetitively find themselves with a yeast infection just before their period begins.
So why is pH so important? What does it do? By maintaining proper pH, the vagina forms a natural barrier to infection by killing off bad bacteria that may enter. WebMD states, at about a pH 4.5, Bacterial Vaginosis, Trichomoniasis. Atrophic Vaginitis and yeast infection risk greatly increases, as the bacteria is better able to grow in this environment. Aside from hormonal and pH changes, yeast infections can be triggered by antibiotics, pregnancy, artificial fibers, less breathable underwear, long term use of non-breathable panty liners and pads during menses, or sexual activity.
Can I have irregular periods because of candida overgrowth?
While candida does not always lead to late or missed periods, it can. Candida overgrowth can cause estrogen dominance in the body. As the body breaks down Candida, over 70 toxins are produced, some of which can mimic estrogen and other hormones. Yeast also contains an estrogen binding protein (EBP) which can bind to estrogen, tricking the body into making more since less is available for use. This is how estrogen dominance begins which leads to irregular periods.
Should I treat candida during my period?
Yes, you can! Vaginal suppositories can continue to be used during your period. Creams can also continue to be used to manage itching around the vulva. Monistat instructs that their product should continue to be used during menses, which will not change its efficacy but suggests using pads instead of tampons as tampons could remove some of the medication. Since a yeast infection is more likely to begin before your period than during it, begin treatment as soon as possible. You should always finish out the full course of medication, even if this continues into your period.
Can I miss my period while on The Candida Diet?
The Candida Diet, no matter which version you follow, typically contains some time of colon cleanse to clear out toxins built up in the colon and toxins from die-off. Any type of cleanse puts stress on your body, as does a change in diet. While on this diet, you will have both of these factors in play, so it is possible that you can miss a period. Missing one period for this reason is okay, but if you concerned about missing your period or think you may be pregnant, you should see your doctor.
What is good to use for candida and period issues?
There are several things you can do on your own to try to prevent or treat yeast infections at home.
What you eat affects every cell in your body. A week or so before your period, you can increase you probiotic supplement or consume yogurt with live acidophilus or unsweetened kefir which will help maintain an acidic environment. Remember that yeast makes you crave sweets and carbohydrates – because carbohydrates break down into sugar! Therefore, it’s important you try to avoid sugars and carbs.
If you use menstrual pads or panty liners, be sure to change them regularly – as directed on the box or more often. If you currently have a yeast infections, you’re better off not using panty liners or menstrual pads as they hold in moisture. Instead, you could use menstrual cups or pH tampons.
Wear cotton or other breathable underwear regularly. Be sure to shower and change to clear underwear after working out as the normal bacteria on your skin thrives off the sweat allowing it to grow and also create odor. Moisture-wicking and loose fitting clothing2 are also a better choice over synthetic choices and skin tight pants.
Do not douche if you are trying to maintain a healthy vaginal pH or prevent/treat a yeast infection as douching increases the pH, can remove beneficial bacteria and can irritate vaginal tissue.
If you repetitively get yeast infections, you should seek help from your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
If this is the first time you are experiencing a yeast infection, or if you are not sure that you have a yeast infection, you should make an appointment with you doctor.
If you have tried over-the-counter methods, lifestyle changes and diet changes with no benefit to your yeast issues, it is time to see your doctor. Your doctor will verify the problem as yeast because other vaginal infections may present similar symptoms, and then you may receive a prescription anti-fungal medication.
Frequent yeast infections should not be ignored, even if they respond to home remedies or over-the-counter medications. These could indicate underlying causes such as diabetes or systemic infection.
You should also see your doctor if you have 4 or more yeast infections per year, if you have uncontrolled diabetes or are pregnant, if you develop fissures (cracks) or sores, or have a weakened immune system due to medications or health conditions such as HIV.