If you seem to get a yeast infection after a period, it is likely related to estrogen. Estrogen levels steadily climb, shortly after a period, until they are at their highest point—right before ovulation. Estrogen helps cells in the vaginal lining take on glycogen (a type of sugar); and, it also can stimulate the growth of Candida fungi. If you are taking an estrogen based birth control pill, this is also artificially raising the amount of estrogen in your body. If you get a yeast infection several days after your period, right before ovulation, the excess sugar in the vaginal tissue is likely the cause of the yeast overgrowth. As the chart below shows, about a week after the end of menstruation, estrogen levels rise. Thus, it is important to consider just how long after menstruation your Candida problems seem to start.
Estrogen levels in the blood are also representative of vaginal pH; as estrogen levels rise, vaginal pH drops. The converse is also true—low estrogen will cause the vaginal pH to rise and become more alkaline. Yeast love to multiply in an alkaline environment; and, when the vagina is not in a healthy acidic state, this gives opportunistic pathogens, like Candida, an open door to proliferate. So, if you seem to get yeast infections only a day or two after menstruation, your vaginal yeast infections could very well be pH related. There is less sugar in the vagina a day or two after menstruation; thus, pH is one major factor that can allow for an infection.
Fortunately, there are some powerful solutions for treating yeast infections offered by natural medicine. But first let's discuss why women may get yeast infections after their periods. The chart below will illustrate the hormonal changes that occur during menstruation. Please note that estradiol is a type of estrogen.
Candida Growth and Estrogen
Candida, the genus of fungus which causes vaginal yeast infections, has two forms of growth: mycelial form and yeast form. The mycelial form, is characterized by the growth of long tendrils; also known as hyphae; that can burrow into your tissue. The virulence of Candida, is greatly increased when it is in its mycelial form; as the tendrils it produces can burrow into your skin and form a mold in the vagina. However, there is a flip side to this coin, so to speak. Estrogen levels are inversely correlated with vaginal pH; i.e., as estrogen rises, vaginal pH drops. While you are in the follicular phase, the time right after your menstruation, estrogen levels are very low. Candida infections and other forms of vaginitis are associated with a higher vaginal pH. Candida loves to multiply in a more alkaline environment; and low estrogen could be providing the yeast a suitable alkaline environment to proliferate.
A study demonstrating that estrogen levels are inversely correlated with vaginal pH, was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology [176.6 (1997): 1270-1277]. The study found that in 172 patients, the level of estradiol (a primary type of estrogen) in their blood determined how high their vaginal pH would be. Less estrogen meant the vagina became more alkaline; and, the converse was true as well. Also, the study found that follicle stimulating hormone was directly correlated with vaginal pH; i.e., a higher level of follicle stimulating hormone meant a higher vaginal pH. The study also reported, that probiotic Lactobacillus bacteria, help to acidify the vagina in healthy women. The researchers also reported the following things could elevate vaginal pH: “vaginal pH can be elevated by bacterial vaginosis, blood, cervical mucus, semen, vaginal medications, and douches.”
Another study relating the correlation of vaginal pH with estrogen, was published in the Journal of Mid-Life Health [5.1 (2014): 34]. The study stated that a vaginal pH of greater than 4.5 (which is the upper limit of a normal vagina’s pH) indicates that the level of estrogen in the blood is likely to be low. The study also found that vaginal pH was a capable indicator of blood estradiol levels. The study also related that a healthy vagina of a woman in her reproductive years, has a pH of less than or equal to 4.5. A woman who is not having a menstrual cycle, such as after menopause, has a vaginal pH greater than 4.5.
A final study on the issue of estrogen and vaginal pH, was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology [190.5 (2004): 1272-1277]. The study was a review of previous research; and, in all, 16 different studies regarding menopausal symptoms, vaginal pH, and the use of estrogen supplementation were analyzed. The researchers found that a women in menopause (with inherently low estrogen levels), typically has a vaginal pH of about 6.0. When these women are given estrogen replacement therapies, their vaginal pH drops and returns to a pH of about 4.5. Thus, this research shows, that higher estrogen blood levels will help to reduce the pH of the vagina to an acidic state.
The presence of beta estradiol, a common estrogen hormone, seems to induce Candida species to transform into their mycelial state. The study that reported this, was published in Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences [October 1997, Volume 53, Issue 9, pp 744-749]. The study looked at three species of Candida, and sought to find under what conditions germ tube growth would occur. The study found all three Candida albicans strains used, developed these hyphal (germ tube tendril) growths in the presence of beta estradiol.
Another study was done to see how estrogen would change the survival and growth of three Candida albicans strains. The study was published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases [Volume 181, Issue 4, Pp. 1441-1446]. The study found, that the growth and toxin production of all tested Candida albicans strains, was enhanced in the presence of estrogen. The ability to survive a harsher environment, was also enhanced by the presence of estrogen. Finally, estrogen also increased the genetic tendency of the Candida strains towards multi-drug resistance.
Elevated Estrogen and Sugar in the Vagina
If you are taking an estrogen therapy, or birth control pill of some kind, this could very well be why you are getting yeast infections after a period. It is potentially the main reason you get yeast infections after menstruation. If you are not taking estrogen, you may just have uncommonly high levels of estrogen naturally.
One interesting research paper, presented the average levels of female sex hormones, throughout the course of the menstrual cycle. The research was published in Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine [2006; 44:883-7]. The study found the levels of estrogen in various women. The highest levels found were denoted by the "95th percentile;" and, the lowest levels of estrogen found were denoted by the "5th percentile." Average estrogen levels were presented as well. The following quotation, was taken from the study, and describes the research (note that no oral contraceptives were used by the women; which would have altered the results):
During a normal menstrual cycle, serum levels of luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), estradiol, and progesterone can vary widely between cycles for the same woman, as well as between different woman. Reliable reference values based on the local population are important for correct interpretation of laboratory results. The purpose of our study was to determine detailed reference values for these hormones throughout the menstrual cycle using the Abbott ARCHITECT system. From 20 volunteers (age 20-36 years) with normal cycles and no use of oral contraceptives, samples were taken every day during their cycle.Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine [2006; 44:883-7]
The chart directly below, was taken from this study, and shows the distribution of estrogen during the menstrual cycle in “chart C.” As you will note, some women’s estrogen levels will be more like the higher line in chart C, which indicates the typical upper limit of estrogen levels (95th percentile). The level of estrogen is measured in picomoles (pmol) per liter (L). The maximum upper limit shown is nearly 1600 pmol / L. Since the molecular weight of estrogen is about 272.38 daltons, that means you should have (normally) about a maximum of .5 micrograms of estrogen in your body at the inception of ovulation—if you naturally have very high estrogen levels.
A different study, found that estrogen levels could greatly influence the rate at which vaginal cells would take on the sugar glycogen. The study was published in Endocrinology [Volume 76, Issue 1]. When estrogen was administered to rats, glycogen synthesis occurred. The study found that one microgram of estrogen would increase glycogen production by about 3 or 4 times that of non treated rats. The study also found, that one microgram appeared to be the most estrogen would be needed to increase the rate of sugar synthesis. Larger doses, of 10 micrograms of estrogen, did not raise the rate of sugar synthesis more than 1 microgram of estrogen did. The physiological mechanisms that create the sugar, are seemingly maxed out at the point of 1 microgram of estrogen.
Thus, if you even have high levels of estrogen normally, you are not likely to have more than half a microgram of estrogen in your system; even at peak levels. And, it is possible, that amounts up to 1 microgram will greatly increase the amount of sugar produced in the vagina. Therefore, since there is probably still room to affect your vagina’s sugar production (by adding up to double the estrogen), adding estrogen to your body, via medicine (estrogen birth control pills, etc.), will make your vagina richer in sugar.
Sugar, as you may know, is food for yeast. And, the extra glycogen in your vagina is simply a golden opportunity for Candida to attack. So perhaps the best course of action to stop yeast infections after a period, is to reduce the amount of sugar in your vagina.
Stopping the Postmenstrual Candida
Yeast are not the only microorganisms who love to eat sugar. There are many helpful bacteria that you can add to your vagina to metabolize extra sugars. Many Lactobacillus bacteria (such as L. acidophilus) also produce lactic acid as a by product of their metabolic processes. This acid is very desireable; as yeast pathogens do not like an acidic environment. Therefore, it is likely that you will greatly benefit from taking a daily probiotic supplement orally, and also by inserting probiotics into your vagina directly. Probiotics acidifying activity, could be key to reducing postmenstrual Candida infections, due to their secretion of lactic acid.
Another good tip for a woman who sees a Candida infection after her period, is to douche with very diluted apple cider vinegar (ACV) right after your menses ends. You won’t require more than a 1% concentration of ACV; as this will be strong enough to start killing off Candida. If you use stronger concentrations of vinegar, you can end up with skin irritation and even chemical burns&mdashif the vinegar is allowed to stay in contact with the area long enough or used too frequently. Make sure you understand using vinegar first before you use a very diluted form in the genital area. This douche will help to clear out free floating, sugar rich, vaginal tissue that can be food for yeast. Also, for those women with yeast infections immediately after menses, diluted apple cider vinegar will help acidify the vagina—correcting a very probable reason you seem to get yeast infections at this time: a high vaginal pH.
In addition to probiotics, as you may have guessed, cessation of any estrogen containing drugs from your life can help. There are a wide assortment of birth control options available; try finding one with a very low level of estrogen, or preferably, no estrogen at all.
Lastly, you may just be a woman who has higher than normal estrogen levels. If you get yeast infections after your period, and you do not take estrogen, then this may be the case. Keeping enough probiotics in your vagina, and digestive system, should be able to ameliorate your situation. Also, you might want to try cutting back on glycemic foods after your period as well.
Yeast Infections Right After a Period
As you know, estrogen is also related to vaginal pH. The more estrogen you have in your body, the more acidic your vagina will be. If you're getting your yeast infection almost immediately after your period, this could be because your vaginal pH is too alkaline. As the chart above shows, estrogen levels are very low at the very end of your period. Thus, your vagina will be about at its peak alkalinity at this time.
Again, to restore pH levels to a more acidic, anti-yeast state, choose a probiotic rich in L. acidophilus. Also, if you have a habit of douching after your period, this could cause a change in pH. This change could be a result of the hazardous chemicals in a douche product, or because helpful probiotics are harmed by the chemicals in the douche. Try to refrain from using any type of douche that is sold in a store. Do not douche with anything but highly diluted apple cider vinegar (diluted with water). You can also add some essential oils to the diluted vinegar. And, after you douche, insert a probiotic capsule into the vagina to give the Lactobacilli bacteria a boost. This should help keep the probiotic bacteria that naturally live in the vagina from being killed off by harsh, synthetic chemicals.
Curing A Yeast Infection Fast—Naturally
If you have a yeast infection it can greatly affect your life and even make it dangerous to have sex while symptoms are present. One woman, Sarah Summer, struggled with chronic, repeat vaginal yeast infections. Even after trying many different treatments, it seemed that it was only a short while before yet another yeast infection would attack and put her through hell.
Summer, unable to get help from her doctor, decided to look into her condition personally instead of giving up hope. This proved to be a great decision, because, after some intense research and study, she found a powerful treatment that totally stopped her recurrent yeast infections. She shared this discovery with others and found that her natural treatment methodology totally cleared up a yeast infection in just 12 hours.
If this sounds intriguing, you can visit Sarah Summer’s website and get acquainted with her online book. Her work is downloadable and you can get it instantly if you decide to. Summer desires to help others, and offers an 8 week, 100% money back guarantee on her publication. If for any reason at all you find it unsatisfactory, you can get a prompt refund.
Summer’s book is published by a subsidiary of the U.S. based firm Keynetics Incorporated. You will find fast, safe, and friendly service from her publisher. I’ve been pleased with my dealings with them in the past.
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- http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0002-9378(97)70345-4 — Caillouette, James C., et al. "Vaginal pH as a marker for bacterial pathogens and menopausal status." American journal of obstetrics and gynecology 176.6 (1997): 1270-1277. PubMed
- http://dx.doi.org/10.4103%2F0976-7800.127789 — Panda, Subrat, et al. "Vaginal pH: A marker for menopause." Journal of mid-life health 5.1 (2014): 34. PubMed Full Text
- http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajog.2003.12.015 — Roy, S., et al. "Vaginal pH is similar to follicle-stimulating hormone for menopause diagnosis." American journal of obstetrics and gynecology 190.5 (2004): 1272-1277. PubMed
- http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s000180050094 — Candida albicans morphogenesis is influenced by estrogen. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences (October 1997, Volume 53, Issue 9, pp 744-749)
- http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/315406 — Estrogen Effects on Candida albicans: A Potential Virulence-Regulating Mechanism. The Journal of Infectious Diseases (Volume 181, Issue 4, Pp. 1441-1446)
- https://doi.org/10.1515/CCLM.2006.160 — Stricker, Reto; et al.. Establishment of detailed reference values for luteinizing hormone, follicle stimulating hormone, estradiol, and progesterone during different phases of the menstrual cycle on the Abbott ARCHITECT® analyzer. Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine [2006; 44:883-7]
- http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/endo-76-1-63 — Kinetics of in Vivo Glycogen Synthesis in the Estrogen-Stimulated Rat Uterus. Endocrinology (Volume 76, Issue 1)
- https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003711.htm — levels of estrogen in women during menstual cycle