Candida (Yeast) Infections and Autoimmune Thyroid Disease

There is a potential link between thyroid disease and yeast infections

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Given that immune system malfunctioning is at the root of autoimmune thyroid diseases such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis and Graves' disease, it's natural to wonder if it can also cause other issues in people with these conditions. Candidiasis—which can take several forms, including thrush and genital yeast infections—is one that has been discussed, given the important role your immune system plays in controlling growth of the fungus that's responsible for this problem.

In short, your autoimmune thyroid condition could influence your risk for yeast infections. But the connection is not all that clear or simple.

Doctor examining sore throat of senior patient
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What Is Candida?

Candida (yeast) is a part of your normal flora that resides harmoniously with other organisms in your gut, reproductive tract, mouth, and skin. In people with healthy immune systems, the presence of Candida is harmless.

However, when a change in the balance of your flora occurs (for example, from taking an antibiotic) or your immune system becomes weakened (for example, from experiencing chronic stress), Candida may overgrow and cause an infection called Candidiasis.

Candida infections vary widely in their severity, from mild infections of your mouth (thrush), fingernail, intestines, or vagina to rare, but potentially life-threatening infections like meningitis or pyelonephritis.

This photo contains content that some people may find graphic or disturbing.

oral candida
Oral candida.

DermNet / CC BY-NC-ND

This photo contains content that some people may find graphic or disturbing.

candida intertrigo
Candida intertrigo.

DermNet / CC BY-NC-ND

This photo contains content that some people may find graphic or disturbing.

vulvovaginal candida
Vulvovaginal candida.

DermNet / CC BY-NC-ND

Exploring the Candida and Thyroid Link

The scientific data supporting a link between Candida and autoimmune thyroid disease is overall scant. That said, if a link does exist, here are some potential theories:

Molecular Mimicry

Molecular mimicry implies there is a structural similarity between a foreign antigen (a substance that activates your immune system) and a host's self-antigen.

If molecular mimicry exists between Candida and the thyroid gland, a person's immune system may misguidedly launch an attack against their own thyroid—meaning the immune system mistakes the thyroid gland for a large yeast infection.


Another theory that has been used to explain some infectious/autoimmune disease connections involves the concept of "superantigens."

A superantigen is a protein that triggers the mass activation of immune system cells. If overgrown Candida releases superantigens, the immune system may begin attacking the thyroid gland or other tissues within the body.

No Link at All

Of course, some experts believe that there is likely no link between Candida overgrowth and autoimmune thyroid disease.

Both Candida infections and autoimmune thyroid disease are fairly common diagnoses—so, it could just be coincidental that a person suffers from both.

Moreover, there are so many factors that contribute to Candida overgrowth besides an immune system problem—uncontrolled diabetes, obesity, poor hygiene, etc. Figuring out which factor is the main culprit behind a yeast infection can be tricky. In addition, there may be more than one factor involved.

What This Means for You

If you do suffer from frequent Candida infections, there are no guidelines suggesting you undergo a thyroid evaluation.

That said, it could be that possible symptoms you are attributing to a Candida infection may actually be thyroid-related. This is why a visit to your healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis is essential.

Treating Candida Infections

There is no evidence suggesting treating Candida overgrowth will ease your thyroid symptoms. Regardless, be sure to see your healthcare provider if you have a yeast infection.

Candida infections are treated with a medication called an antifungal that can be given topically, orally, or intravenously.

Preventing Candida Infections

Whether or not there is a link between your yeast infections and your thyroid, it's a good idea to try and prevent yeast infections from occurring in the first place.

Some basic strategies you can adopt include:

  • Wearing loose-fitting, cotton clothes, especially underwear
  • Avoiding certain medications like antibiotics or corticosteroids (if possible and with your healthcare provider's OK)
  • Practicing good hygiene

In addition, some experts recommend the "Candida diet " based on the premise that sugar may promote the growth of yeast. With this diet, individuals eliminate sugar, white flour, alcohol, and some dairy products.

While there is no robust scientific data to support this diet yet, it may be worth a try under the guidance of your healthcare provider.

A Word From Verywell

Even though scientists have not yet found a concrete link between Candida and autoimmune thyroid disease, try to remain focused on caring for yourself. This means taking your thyroid and/or antifungal medication as directed, seeing your healthcare provider for regular check-ups, and managing your stress in a healthy way.

2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Kharrazian D, Herbert M, Vojdani A. Immunological reactivity using monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies of autoimmune thyroid target sites with dietary proteins. J Thyroid Res. 2017;2017:4354723. doi:10.1155/2017/4354723. 

  2. Devore-Carter D, Kar S, Vellucci V, Bhattacherjee V, Domanski P, Hostetter MK. Superantigen-like effects of a Candida albicans polypeptideJ Infect Dis. 2008;197(7):981-989. doi:10.1086/529203

Additional Reading

By Mary Shomon
Mary Shomon is a writer and hormonal health and thyroid advocate. She is the author of "The Thyroid Diet Revolution."