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Constant Yeast Infections, Why Has My Infection Become Chronic?

Updated 4/24/2022

Medically reviewed by Dr. Atmika Paudel, PhD - Written by Dr. Shalaka Samant, PhD and Dan Jackowiak Nc, HHP

Dr. Shalaka Samant, PhD says... The information presented in this article accurately describes the many possible causes of constant yeast infections.

If you've followed the diets, taken the drugs, applied the creams, and still can't get any relief from your constant yeast infections, this webpage is for you. Dr. Samant and I have gone over all the possible problems that you need to investigate so you can get these infections under control.

It also takes a look at what I believe to be one of the single-most important factors that many people miss when it comes to constant yeast infections and how to address it yourself or with your doctor.

Dr. Shalaka Samant, PhD says...

C. albicans is both a commensal organism of the genital and gastrointestinal tracts and an opportunistic pathogen of the same tissues.  Candida species cause infections at different host sites because they are able to adapt their metabolism depending on the available nutrients, such as sugar, whose levels differ in different host niches. Their ability to adapt to both nutrient-rich and nutrient-poor conditions is what makes these fungi successful pathogens.

Recurring or constant yeast infections are those that occur four or more times a year. Such yeast infections can occur if conditions in the body are favorable for yeast overgrowth. Potential risk factors for recurrent vaginal yeast infections have been extensively studied. Recurrent infections may be caused by the resistance of non - C. albicans species, such as Candida glabrata or Candida tropicalis, to antifungal agents.

Common Causes of Constant Yeast Infections

  • Antibiotic use
  • Immune system dysfunction
  • You're pregnant
  • Out of balance hormones
  • Over use of condoms with the spermicide Nonoxynol 9
  • Uncontrolled vaginal sugar levels or diabetes
  • Oral sex with partners that have yeast in their mouths
  • High heavy metal levels
  • Yeast over growth in the intestine

Lets take a quick look at each one...

Overuse of Antibiotics

Dr. Shalaka Samant, PhD says...

Antibiotics are often implicated as a cause of recurrent vaginal candidiasis. Frequent antibiotic use decreases protective vaginal flora and allows colonization by Candida species. The risk of a yeast infection increases with the duration of antibiotic use, but no specific antibiotic has been shown to be more likely to cause yeast infections.

Immune System Problems

Normally, the T-cells known as lymphocytes swing into action and kill the yeast as it tries to establish itself but sometimes there is defect in their function and they don't. This is what is believed to happen in the case of vaginal yeast that has spread from the intestine. The vaginal candida yeast attaches in the mycelial form and the lymphocytes don't respond to the threat. Then it begins to produce spores giving the woman a full blown yeast infection.

It has also been found that many women have a poor IgA response in their vaginal secretions. IgA is the antibody responsible for the defense of all the mucous linings in the body. This is a very common immune system deficiency that has no cure; it is for life if you have it. However, it can be treated and immune function boosted with colostrum or lactoferrin, which is the active ingredient in colostrum.

You begin to take Diflucan or some other medication and it initially clears up the yeast infection. However, in the case of constant yeast infections after a while it is back again because it has the ability to hide from the drugs and creams under the skin of the vagina. In many cases other drug resistant species like Candida glabrata, which is almost immune to Diflucan and pretty much only responds to boric acid suppositories and as far as prescription drugs go, the Enchinocandins, becomes the predominant infectious agent.

Dr. Shalaka Samant, PhD says...

Women who are prone to recurrent vaginal candidiasis may have deficient cell-mediated immunity. Similarly, persons with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome are susceptible to systemic candida infections. Some studies suggest that 40 to 70 percent of women with recurrent candidiasis have a subnormal T-lymphocyte response to Candida.


You're Pregnant

During pregnancy after the first trimester your estrogen levels rise to the highest they will ever be in your entire life. This excess estrogen feeds yeast, which brings us to the next reason.

Out of Balance Hormones

Excess estrogen is a definite risk factor for chronic yeast infections. Whether that estrogen comes from birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, or your body is simply out of whack, it doesn't seem to matter. Too much estrogen fuels yeasts growth in the vagina. We also know that the hormones are an integral part of the immune system and any imbalances can throw its function out of whack. There is more information on hormones here.

A poorly functioning thyroid doesn't help either.

According to the ATA Hypothyroidism Booklet, page 3, American Thyroid Association, 2003.

"Thyroid hormone is essential to help each cell in each tissue and organ to work right. For example, thyroid hormone helps the body use energy, stay warm, and keep the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs working as they should".

Because thyroid hormones affect every cell in your body, if your thyroid is having problems, it can throw off the other hormones. This can make the vaginal environment conducive to constant yeast infections because it can alter the amount of estrogen and estrogen controls the sugar levels in the vagina. 

The thyroid is very easy to test in the comfort of your own home.

Dr. Shalaka Samant, PhD says...

Contraceptive methods may also promote recurrences of candidiasis. Use of spermicidal jellies and creams increases susceptibility to infection by altering the vaginal flora and increasing the adhesion of Candida organisms. Women who take oral contraceptive pills and those who are pregnant have a higher rate of vaginal candidiasis. Oral contraceptives affect glucose tolerance and may alter the carbohydrate availability in and around vaginal epithelial cells, thereby facilitating Candida adherence and virulence. Furthermore, oral contraceptives may also alter immune responses allowing the yeast to invade.(1)

1. Vulvovaginal candidiasis: epidemiologic, diagnostic, and therapeutic considerations. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1998 Feb;178(2):203-11.

Diabetes or High Vaginal Sugar Levels

Diabetes is of course an obvious cause if you have this condition. Yeast feeds on glucose whether it gets it from the simple carbohydrates you eat or from your blood sugar.

If the glucose levels are conducive for yeast overgrowth it reproduces in the spore form and can double its population every hour.

If you starve it with diet, the food supply is lean so it turns to the mycelial form with hyphae and blastospores and begins to grow outward in search of food. These legs can puncture the stomach lining, the lining of the skin in the vagina, the outer layers of skin if you have skin yeast, etc, in search of food. Once they have tapped your blood supply it has found a glucose source and life is good again.

High vaginal sugar levels can also be caused by too much estrogen.

Dr. Shalaka Samant, PhD says...

Diabetes mellitus is often considered a predisposing factor for recurrent vaginal candidiasis. Hyperglycemia enhances the ability of C. albicans to bind to vaginal epithelial cells(2). The main reasons for the increased colonization by yeast in diabetic patients seem to be altered functions of the immune system in individuals with poor glycemic control or a direct effect of elevated blood glucose levels, creating specific conditions for intensive fungal colonization. People with diabetes also have increased levels of glycogen, a polysaccharide that the body uses to store glucose. Extra glycogen in the vaginal area can lead to an increase in acidity. This can contribute to yeast growth.

2. Candida sp. Infections in Patients with Diabetes Mellitus. J Clin Med. 2019 Jan; 8(1): 76. Published online 2019 Jan 10. doi: 10.3390/jcm8010076

Oral Sex With a Partner That Has Oral Yeast

According to a study out of the University of Michigan, your risk of developing a vaginal yeast infection increase after having oral sex, because candida is found in one third to one half of all adults' mouths.

Dr. Shalaka Samant, PhD says...

Although little information is available about the relationship between types of sexual activities and prevalence of recurrent candidiasis, several authors observe a correlation between frequent oral sex and constant yeast infections, probably due to the presence of yeast in the oral cavity.

Mechanical factors and irregular personal hygiene may also be important. Perspiration associated with tightly fitted clothes or poorly ventilated underwear increases local temperature and moisture. Mechanical irritation of the vaginal area by clothing or with sexual intercourse may also predispose already colonized areas to infection.

High Heavy Metal Levels

The mystery problem, too much mercury in the body.

At Michael Biamonte's health clinic, testing the mercury levels in his patients with various illnesses, showed that  82 to 86% of his patients with constant yeast infections, parasites, Epstein Barr virus, chronic urinary tract infections and multiple chemical sensitivities had mercury levels that were 68 to 86% higher than normal.

Dr. J. Trowbridge has written in his book "The Yeast Syndrome," that some doctors specializing in candida treatment have reported to him that they have discovered clinically that 98% of their patients with chronic candida also had mercury toxicity.

Mercury accumulation levels in females are 2:1 over males. It accumulates in the central nervous system, the endocrine system, and every major organ, as well as the body at large.

It disrupts the pituitary, thyroid, hypocampus, adrenal gland and interferes with the regulation of glucose. These disruptions help bring on fatigue, mind fog, short term memory loss, concentration problems and headaches. People can lose their sense of balance. Women can develop early menopause and endometriosis from loss of proper hormone regulation. Mercury is a possible source of too much estrogen because mercury is a hormone disruptor and could be altering estrogen levels leading to too much glucose in the vagina that feeds yeast.

The body's macrophages and master antioxidant glutathione try to clean up and detoxify the body. At some point they become weakened, tired, and worn out. This weakening of the immune system hinders the body’s ability to heal and greatly affects immune system function as outlined below.  

In an article in the November 28, 2002, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, "Mercury, fish oils, and the risks of myocardial infarction," the authors stated: "Mercury may promote arteriosclerosis and hence increase the risk of myocardial infarction in several ways. Mercury promotes the production of free radicals…and may bind selenium [so that it] cannot serve as a cofactor for glutathione peroxidase. Mercury may…inactivate the antioxidant properties of glutathione, catalase, and superoxide dismutase. Mercury may induce lipid peroxidation, and mercury levels were a strong predictor of oxidized LDL level. Mercury compounds can also promote platelet aggregability and blood coagulability, inhibit endothelial-cell formation and migration, and affect apoptosis and the inflammatory response. Increased rates of cardiovascular disease were found in mercury-exposed workers, and mercury levels in hair predicted the progression of carotid arteriosclerosis in a longitudinal study."

Mercury catalyzes oxidation of important parts of your body, the worst area being the membranes around and inside the cells. It sticks to the sulhydryl groups present on the membranes and destroys the essential fatty acids that your body can't replace. It also destroys the phospholipids that hold the membrane together.

Mercury oxidizes the proteins inside the cells that hold the cell together keeping things like your DNA in place. It kicks out the appropriate metal from the enzyme receptor sites and renders these sites inactive.

The significance of the above two paragraphs have a lot to do with cell to cell communication and the immune system. The cells talk to one another and relay information so they all work together as a whole system. When cells are in danger, for instance, they send out cytokines, which are a signal asking for help from the immune system. If mercury has damaged the outer membranes, it is unable to send out the required signal for help. Viruses, bad bacteria, and yeast have a field day because the cells are defenseless by themselves.

I could probably build an entire website on mercury poisoning but I think you see what I'm trying to say?

Mercury can cause problems with three things that can cause constant yeast infections, immune system problems, hormones, and blood sugar levels. You must look at this, and I would do it sooner rather than later.

More about Mercury Poisoning & Constant Yeast Infections

Too Much Yeast in The Intestine

Many microbiologists have suggested that 90% or more women have an over growth in the intestine and because of the close proximity of the anus to the vagina, it simply transfers. You then end up re-infecting yourself over and over and over again.

Dr. Shalaka Samant, PhD says...

Some investigators have also advocated the elimination of Candida from the gastrointestinal tract. The rationale is that reinfection from an intestinal reservoir contributes to vaginal recurrences(3). Dietary excesses in terms of high calorific and carbohydrate rich meal consumption have also been implicated to play a role in constant yeast infections(4).

3. Miles MR, Olsen L, Rogers A. Recurrent Vaginal Candidiasis: Importance of an Intestinal Reservoir. JAMA. 1977;238(17):1836–1837. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280180040023
4. The association between dietary intake and reported history of Candida vulvovaginitis. J Fam Pract. 1989 Nov;29(5):509-15.

How to Treat Constant Yeast Infections

You really need to identify the cause and I have provided links above so you can get more information. Once you determine what the problem is, then you can take action to correct it.

You can see your doctor to get your blood sugar levels and hormone levels determined, and to see if you're pregnant. They can also test for immune function and do a blood test for mercury.

However, blood testing for mercury is not that accurate. You are much better off to do a urine challenge test or hair test.

A stool test like those that I suggest here, can be done to check for intestinal yeast over growth.

Dr. Shalaka Samant, PhD says...

The optimal treatment for constant yeast infections has not yet been defined. Consequently, treatment must be individualized based on a comparison of effectiveness, convenience, potential side effects and cost. Following treatment of the acute episode, prophylactic or maintenance treatment is usually suggested.

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Atmika Paudel, PhD

The article is well written and covers many aspects of recurrent yeast infection. I will just add upon few things which are missing or need emphasis.

Some groups of people are more prone to yeast infections due to their genetic makeup, for example, African American women would have an increased chance of having vulvovaginal candidiasis (1) and genetic difference in mannose-binding lectin 2 gene was seen to have a link with recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis (2). Apart from these, comorbidities such as diabetes, atopic dermatitis, HIV and use of other medicines including antibiotics and steroids, are often associated with recurrent yeast infections (1). One of the major factors that plays a role in disruption of hormonal and overall balance of the body is stress. Stress can lead to imbalance in the normal bodily activities, leading to recurrent yeast infections. More about stress can be learned here.

The use of prebiotics and probiotics for modulating the immunity and replenishing the normal gut microbiota are powerful tools for fighting against recurrent yeast infections (3). With the knowledge on immunodeficiency as the cause of recurrent yeast infections, many studies then focused on the connection of immunity and such infections, and recently it has also been hypothesized that not only the immunodeficiency but also the local mucosal overreaction of the immune system can cause increased colonization of yeasts (2). Antifungal therapy in combination with supplements that help balance the immune system and normal gut flora as well as taking precautions in diet will help in getting relief from recurrent yeast infections.

1. Sari Sovianti, C., & Mutia Devi. (2021). Recurrent Vulvovaginal Candidiasis. Bioscientia Medicina : Journal of Biomedicine and Translational Research, 5(3), 498-507.
2. Rosati, D., Bruno, M., Jaeger, M., Ten Oever, J., & Netea, M. G. (2020). Recurrent Vulvovaginal Candidiasis: An Immunological Perspective. Microorganisms, 8(2), 144.
3. Superti, F., & De Seta, F. (2020). Warding Off Recurrent Yeast and Bacterial Vaginal Infections: Lactoferrin and Lactobacilli. Microorganisms, 8(1), 130.

Have Any Questions About Constant Yeast Infections?

Do you have any questions about constant yeast infections or yeast infections in general? Ask your question here or contact us using the contact page of this website. It is also always a good idea to talk to your doctor as well.

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