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What are the main causes of yeast infections in women?

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Antibiotic use, pregnancy, hormone level changes, diabetes and a weakened immune system are the most common causes of yeast infections in women, according to WebMD. Douching upsets the vaginal balance of yeast and bacteria and kills off some of the healthy bacteria, encouraging an overgrowth of Candida yeast and infection.

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Three out of four women have at least one yeast infection during their lives, explains WebMD. The use of antibiotics is one of the most common causes because certain medications change the level of bacteria and other organisms in the vagina that normally help keep yeast cells under control. When the acidity, or pH balance, in the vagina is altered through the use of medications, yeast can overgrow. High levels of estrogen experienced in pregnancy can cause yeast infections. Altering the balance of hormones in the body through the use of birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy also causes yeast infections; some women notice increased infections at certain times in their menstrual cycles.

Because yeast thrive on excess glucose in the body, excessively high blood sugar levels, as seen in poorly managed diabetes, often result in yeast infections, notes WebMD. Immune system-weakening conditions, such as HIV or AIDS, reduce the body’s ability to fight off a yeast infection. Some women notice an increase in infections when they experience a cold or the flu.

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