Can antibiotic use cause a yeast infection?

Some antibiotics can cause yeast infections. An antibiotic's job is to kill the bacteria that are making you sick. However, the body has lots of good bacteria, too. Some of these good bacteria are in the vagina, and they keep other organisms, like the fungus that causes yeast infections, from overgrowing. While killing the bad bacteria, some antibiotics also kill the good bacteria, resulting in the overgrowth of yeast.
Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Internal Medicine
Yes, taking antibiotics can increase your risk of getting a yeast infection. And yes, you can do something to lower this risk.

Vaginal yeast infections are caused by the fungus Candida albicans. These infections occur in up to 75% of women during their reproductive years.

Candida is in the environment. It is also found in small numbers in the vaginas of many women. This is quite normal.

Infections, called candidiasis, happen when the yeast overgrows and causes symptoms:
  • Itch
  • Irritation
  • Swelling
  • Redness of the vagina and genital skin
  • A clumpy, white vaginal discharge may be present
Candidiasis is common in healthy women, but there are also risk factors that increase the chance of developing an infection. Using antibiotics is a risk factor. As many as 25% of women on antibiotics will develop a vaginal yeast infection.

Why does this happen? Antibiotics get rid of the healthy bacteria that normally keep Candida from growing.

Women who get yeast infections while on antibiotics may take anti-fungal medication to prevent infection.

Fluconazole is an effective antifungal medication. A single pill is usually all that is needed.

Vaginal creams and suppositories are available without a prescription. These medications are placed in the vagina at bedtime for 3 days.

See a doctor if you have symptoms even while you take any of these preventive medicines.
Harvard Medical School The Truth About Your Immune System

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Harvard Medical School The Truth About Your Immune System

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.