What Causes a Yeast Infection Before Your Period and What to Do About It

Getting a yeast infection before a period is common in women of childbearing age. The shifting hormones that prompt menstruation can cause Candida, the fungus that causes yeast infections, to overgrow. This typically occurs the week prior to a period.

These same hormonal changes are also what can cause cramps, mood changes, and bloating.

Although the incidence of yeast infections (also known as candidiasis) prior to a period isn’t known, a small study has shown that three out of 10 women showed an increased growth rate of Candida yeast in the week prior to menstruation.

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Yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of the Candida fungus. Some women can experience a yeast infection prior to their menstrual cycle, while others get recurring infections at the same time of their cycle each month. This is referred to as cyclic vulvovaginitis.

When the body goes through the menstrual cycle, different hormones are increased and lowered. Estrogen is typically highest during ovulation and then drops slowly before your period begins. Progesterone typically peaks as you come closer to your period. Both progesterone and estrogen are lowest during menstruation.

During this fluctuation, the hormones can become imbalanced, which can lead to the overgrowth of Candida. Estrogen, in particular, has been shown to have an effect on the overgrowth of a particular strain of Candida known as Candida albicans.

There are over 200 different types of Candida, but only five are associated with 90% of yeast infections, including:

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

Although hormones can play a role in the development of a yeast infection, they are not the only culprit. There are several other potential causes:

  • Uncontrolled diabetes: In those with uncontrolled diabetes, blood sugar levels can spike regularly. Since yeast feeds off sugar, this can lead to an overgrowth of the fungus, leading to a yeast infection.
  • A weakened immune system: Yeast is kept under control by the immune system. If immune function becomes compromised, this can lead to an overgrowth of Candida.
  • Pregnancy and oral contraceptives: Both pregnancy and oral contraceptives can cause changes in the balance of hormones, estrogen especially. When estrogen levels become elevated, it can upset the normal balance of yeast.
  • The use of antibiotics: Antibiotics are designed to kill off bacteria that are making you sick. They often also kill off other beneficial bacteria in the process, which are what help keep yeast levels in check.
  • Psychological issues: Psychological issues such as depression, anxiety, and prolonged bouts of stress have been shown to contribute to recurrent yeast infections. This is likely because these conditions inhibit the action of the immune system.
  • Poor eating habits: Eating a diet full of processed foods, simple carbohydrates, and sugars can overfeed the yeast that is already in the body. This excessive feeding can cause the yeast to grow out of control.

The Candida Diet

The Candida diet has been shown to be effective for those with candidiasis, but it can be highly restricting. Severe diet restrictions should only be considered following the medical advice from your healthcare provider.


The symptoms that occur when a person has a yeast infection may not be present in all people, and they could overlap with other conditions. If you experience any of the symptoms of a yeast infection, visit your healthcare provider to get a proper diagnosis. Treating a yeast infection at home is easy, but if your symptoms are caused by another condition, you could do more harm than good by self-treating.

Common symptoms associated with 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 difficult to tell the difference between the beginning of your menstrual period and the bleeding caused by a yeast infection. This symptom should be monitored.

Do I Have a Yeast Infection or STD?

A yeast infection and an STD share a lot of the same symptoms, so it’s important to get tested if you are sexually active.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

If you’re unsure of the symptoms or have never had a yeast infection before, you should definitely see your healthcare provider. This is because many symptoms of a yeast infection overlap with those of other conditions. You should also go to your healthcare provider if you are pregnant and suspect a yeast infection.

Typically, mild yeast infections will clear up within a few days, but some severe cases may take up to two weeks to resolve. If you have mild symptoms of a yeast infection and it is not clearing up after a few weeks of treatment or your symptoms are getting worse, it’s time to see your healthcare provider.


Due to how common yeast infection is, it can be easy to diagnose. During your visit to your healthcare provider, they will likely inquire about any medical history regarding yeast infections as well as STDs.

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 to send for further testing.


Antifungal medications are used to treat a yeast infection. They may need a prescription or can be purchased over the counter. For mild cases, miconazole, clotrimazole, and terconazole may be used, all of which may be available in a cream, ointment, tablet, or suppositories. They are classified as short-course therapy and are used for one to seven days.

Another option for a mild infection is a single-dose oral medication called fluconazole. Those with moderate infections may be required to take two doses of this medication. This method and medication aren’t recommended for someone who is pregnant, however.

Those with severe or recurrent yeast infections may be required to have longer-term treatment. Long-course vaginal therapy may be required, which is a course of medication that is taken daily for up to two weeks and then once a day for at least six months. Another treatment course is called multidose oral medication. This would require a person to take two or three antifungal doses orally.

Some may experience an infection that is resistant to antifungal medications typically used for this ailment. If that’s the case, they may have to go through azole-resistant therapy. This is when a person is required to take boric acid by way of 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 your yeast infection, you cannot rely on diaphragms or a condom for birth control since ingredients in the medication can weaken latex.


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

  • Change your pads and tampons often
  • Always change out of sweaty clothing after a workout
  • Avoid tight clothing and underwear
  • Wear breathable underwear
  • Add a probiotic yogurt to your diet
  • Always wipe from front to back after urinating
  • Avoid douching
  • Avoid scented personal care items

Yeast infections can be uncomfortable, but they are typically easily treated. Remember to call your healthcare provider if you suspect that you have a yeast infection.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you treat a recurring yeast infection?

    You may be able to treat a recurring yeast infection by using an antifungal medicine or taking oral fluconazole. This is a medication that requires a prescription from a healthcare provider. Other treatments for a recurring yeast infection can include flucytosine, boric acid, and nystatin.

  • Can a yeast infection delay your period?

    No, a yeast infection is unlikely to delay your period. However, certain anti-fungal drugs that are administered vaginally can result in a late period. They can also cause itching, burning, and inflammation of the vagina and vulva. One of these medications is called clotrimazole.

  • What does the beginning of a yeast infection look like?

    The beginning of a yeast infection often involves an intense itchiness inside and surrounding the vagina. The rate and severity of symptoms caused by a vaginal yeast infection can differ from one person to another. These symptoms include soreness, pain while urinating, pain during sex, thick and white vaginal discharge without a bad smell, and redness, burning, or swelling of the vagina and vulva.

  • Can periods cause yeast infections?

    In some women, it may be possible for periods to cause a yeast infection. This is due to the hormonal changes that occur in the vagina both before and during menstruation. When Candida (type of yeast) is in the vagina during menstruation, it may be prompted to multiply itself and result in an infection.

17 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.
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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.