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What to Do About Yeast Infections During Pregnancy

By Marisa Iallonardo
Reviewed by Alyssa Quimby, M.D.
August 29, 2023

Let’s be real: Yeast infections are never fun, regardless of whether you’re pregnant. But if you’re expecting, you might find yourself getting them more often than before, since being pregnant makes people more prone to yeast infections, according to Kelley Robrock, M.D., a board-certified ob-gyn at Axia Women’s Health OB/GYN of Indiana.

Here, we offer information on why yeast infections happen during pregnancy, along with tips for prevention and treatment.

What Causes Yeast Infections During Pregnancy

In general, yeast infections are caused by the overabundance of candida, a type of fungus. This can cause symptoms like vaginal itching, irritation, burning, and a cottage cheese–like discharge, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

The reason pregnant people are more likely to develop yeast infections isn’t completely known, but it’s thought to be related to the increase of certain hormones (estrogen and progesterone) during pregnancy, as well as changes in vaginal pH (level of acidity), Robrock says.

Who Gets Yeast Infections During Pregnancy?

Yeast infections are common across the board during pregnancy. People who were prone to them before they were pregnant, or who have diabetes, may be even more likely to get them, says Chasity Jennings-Nunez, M.D., board-certified ob-gyn at OB Hospitalist Group, Adventist Health Glendale, in California.

Yeast infections can happen in any trimester, but “may be more common in the second and third trimesters,” Jennings-Nunez says, when estrogen levels rise and weight gain accelerates, often causing increased sweating and discharge.

And if you’re wondering if this increased risk will last after your baby is born, Jennings-Nunez says that yeast infections aren’t any more or less common postpartum.

Is a Yeast Infection Dangerous to Pregnancy?

The good news is that “yeast infections are not associated with an increase in the risk of miscarriage, birth defects, preterm labor, or intrauterine infection,” Jennings-Nunez says. But it’s important to get checked out by your doctor if you think you have one. There are other infections such as bacterial vaginosis that can cause similar symptoms to those of yeast infections and can be linked to preterm labor.

How to Treat Yeast Infections During Pregnancy

If you’re diagnosed with a yeast infection during pregnancy, the treatment is pretty straightforward. Doctors are most likely to recommend over-the-counter medications, such as clotrimazole and miconazole (Monistat).

Both ob-gyns we talked to prefer a seven-day treatment, either with vaginal inserts or a vaginal cream that comes with an applicator. “Many people only have temporary relief with one-day treatments,” Jennings-Nunez says. One- and three-day creams can also cause more irritation.

If you get a yeast infection after you give birth, your doctor may also recommend a seven-day treatment or prescribe the oral medication fluconazole (Diflucan), which is considered safe while chest/breastfeeding.

Getting yeast infections often? Talk to your provider. “Recurrent, frequent yeast infections should be evaluated for strains of less common yeast that might require a different type of antifungal,” Jennings-Nunez says. Be sure to mention whether your discharge is abnormal or whether you have irritation or ulcerations, as these could indicate other issues.

Can You Prevent Yeast Infections During Pregnancy?

Yeast infections may not always be prevented, but you can reduce your risk by opting for cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothing, taking off wet bathing suits or clothes right away, and steering clear of scented lotions and laundry detergent.

Yeast infections can happen. But if you do get one, there are medications that are safe and effective during pregnancy and postpartum.

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