What Causes a Yeast Infection Before Your Period?

And What To Do About It

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Getting a yeast infection before your period is common. The changes in hormones that bring on menstruation can also cause Candida, the fungus that causes yeast infections, to overgrow.

This article will go over why you might get a yeast infection before your period and what to do when it happens. 

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Your period does not exactly cause yeast infections, but changes that are part of your menstrual cycle can make you more likely to get a yeast infection around the time that you’re menstruating.

You might get a yeast infection right before your period or get recurring infections at the same time of your cycle each month (cyclic vulvovaginitis).

How Common Are Yeast Infections Before a Period?

It’s not known exactly how many people get yeast infections (candidiasis) before their period, but it seems to be fairly common. 

Yeast infections are most common during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, the phase before menstruation, which usually lasts about two weeks.

As your body goes through the menstrual cycle, your hormones naturally go up and down. 

Estrogen is typically highest during ovulation and then drops slowly before your period begins. Progesterone typically peaks as you get closer to your period. Both progesterone and estrogen are the lowest during your period.

These fluctuations can make the hormones in your body imbalanced, which can lead to an overgrowth of Candida, the fungus that causes yeast infections.

Estrogen, in particular, has been shown to affect the overgrowth of the strain Candida albicans.

There are over 200 different types of Candida, but just five are the cause of about 90% of yeast infections, including:

  • Candida albicans
  • Candida glabrata
  • Candida tropicalis
  • Candida parapsilosis
  • Candida krusei

Although hormones play a role, there are several other known risk factors for yeast infections, including:

  • Uncontrolled diabetes. In people with uncontrolled diabetes, blood sugar levels can spike regularly. Since yeast feeds off sugar, blood sugar spikes can lead to an overgrowth of the fungus, which in turn causes a yeast infection.
  • A weakened immune system. Yeast on and in the body is kept under control by the immune system. If immune function gets compromised, it can lead to an overgrowth of Candida.
  • Pregnancy and oral contraceptives. Both pregnancy and birth control pills cause changes in the balance of hormones, especially estrogen. When estrogen levels are elevated, it can upset the normal balance of yeast and lead to overgrowth.
  • The use of antibiotics. Antibiotics are designed to kill off harmful bacteria, but they often also kill some beneficial bacteria in the process. Since these helpful bacteria keep yeast levels in check, not having enough can make a yeast infection more likely.
  • Mental health conditions. Psychological conditions like depression, anxiety, and prolonged bouts of stress have been shown to contribute to recurrent yeast infections. It’s thought that the link is because these conditions affect the action of the body’s immune system.
  • Diet. Eating a lot of processed foods, simple carbohydrates, and sugars can overfeed the yeast in the body, allowing them to grow out of control.

The Candida Diet

The Candida diet might be effective for some people with candidiasis, but it is very restrictive. You should talk to your healthcare provider before trying any diet to manage candida.


The symptoms of a yeast infection are not always the same for every person and often overlap with other common conditions. 

The beginning of a yeast infection often feels like intense itchiness inside and around the vagina. 

Common symptoms of yeast infections include:

  • Itching and irritation in the genital area
  • Burning during sex or while urinating
  • A thick, white discharge that resembles cottage cheese
  • Swelling of the vulva
  • A rash either on or inside of the vagina
  • Pain or swelling of the vagina

In some cases, a yeast infection may cause light bleeding due to the irritation and inflammation of the genital area. 

It can be tricky to tell the beginning of your menstrual period from light bleeding caused by a yeast infection.

While a yeast infection is unlikely to delay your period, some of the anti-fungal drugs that are given vaginally to treat them (like clotrimazole) can cause a late period. These medications can also cause itching, burning, and inflammation of the vagina and vulva.

Do I Have a Yeast Infection or STI?

Some sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can have symptoms similar to a yeast infection, like burning and itching. 

Even though treating a yeast infection at home is easy, if your symptoms are being caused by another condition like an STI, you could do more harm than good by self-treating. 


Yeast infections are common and usually easy for healthcare providers to diagnose. 

They will ask you about your symptoms and may want to do an exam to look in and around your vagina. They will also ask if you’ve ever had a yeast infection before as well as whether you have had any STIs.

Your provider can take a swab from your vagina to test it for yeast. They might also want to do other tests to rule out another cause, like an STI. This could include different swab tests, urine tests, or blood tests.

What If It’s Not a Yeast Infection?

What looks like a yeast infection at first could also be a condition called bacterial vaginosis (BV). If you seem to get symptoms of a yeast infection often or they don’t get better with treatment, it’s important to see your provider. Since BV is caused by bacteria and not fungi, it needs to be treated differently. 

To determine if there are any visible signs of infection, your healthcare provider will likely perform a pelvic exam. This allows them to examine the cervix as well as the vaginal walls. Then, your healthcare provider may collect cell samples of the discharge from your vagina or cervix to be examined under a microscope or sent for further testing.


Getting your period won’t “flush out” a yeast infection. A mild yeast infection might clear up on its own, but often, you’ll need to treat the fungus to get the infection to go away.

Antifungal medications treat yeast infections. You may need a prescription, but many can be purchased over the counter at a pharmacy. Your provider will let you know which treatment to try first.

For mild yeast infections, try miconazole, clotrimazole, or terconazole. These are OTC products available in cream, ointment, tablet, or suppository. 

These products are “short-course therapy” that you use for one to seven days. You can use a product like Monistat if you’re on your period. 

Another option for a mild yeast infection is a single-dose oral medication called fluconazole. People with moderate yeast infections may need to take two doses of this medication. However, this treatment is not safe for people who are pregnant. 

What to Do If Yeast Infections Keep Coming Back?

If you get frequent yeast infections or you always seem to get one right before your period, you will need to work with your provider to figure out why you are prone to them. You will also need to find a treatment that will clear up the fungus effectively. 

You may be able to treat a recurring yeast infection by using an antifungal medicine or taking oral fluconazole as prescribed by your provider. Other treatments for a recurring yeast infection can include flucytosine, boric acid, and nystatin.

Yeast infections can become resistant to the antifungal medications typically used to treat them.

If this happens to you, you might need to do azole-resistant therapy. During this treatment, you will have to take boric acid through a vaginal suppository. It is often the last course of treatment and is only used in rare cases.

Antifungal Suppositories and Birth Control

If you use antifungal suppositories to treat a yeast infection, it’s important to know that you cannot rely on diaphragms or a condom for birth control during treatment. The ingredients in the medication can weaken the latex in condoms and diaphragms, and they may not work to prevent pregnancy. 


Some things you can do to prevent a yeast infection include:

  • Change your pads and tampons often
  • Get into clean, dry clothes as soon as possible after you’ve gotten wet or sweaty 
  • Do not wear tight clothing and underwear
  • Wear breathable underwear
  • Always wipe from front to back after urinating
  • Do not douche
  • Do not use scented personal care items or any products with irritating ingredients on your genitals

Some research has looked at eating probiotic yogurt to help prevent yeast infections, but results have been inconsistent.

When to See a Provider

If you have mild symptoms of a yeast infection but it is not clearing up after a few weeks of treatment or if your symptoms are getting worse, call your provider.

If you’re unsure of the symptoms or have never had a yeast infection before, you should see your healthcare provider. Many symptoms of a yeast infection overlap with symptoms of other conditions. 

It’s also important to call your provider if you’re pregnant and have symptoms of a yeast infection.

Often, mild yeast infections will clear up within a few days, but more severe cases can take up to two weeks to get better.


Yeast infections at any time of the month can be uncomfortable, but they can be especially bothersome if they happen right before your period. That said, most yeast infections are easily treated. 

Call your provider if you think you have a yeast infection, especially if you always seem to get one right before your period. 

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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.
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By Angelica Bottaro
Angelica Bottaro is a professional freelance writer with over 5 years of experience. She has been educated in both psychology and journalism, and her dual education has given her the research and writing skills needed to deliver sound and engaging content in the health space.