Here’s What Stress Can Do To Your Yeast Infection

By Nicole Charky

Yeast infections are sneaky. But let’s get a few things straight and answer this: Is stress the ultimate factor behind the discomfort?

“The brain and digestive system actually share a two-way connection, so not only does a healthy gut affect your mental state, but your mental state affects how your gut functions,” says Dr. Amy Meyers, physician and author based in Texas.

When you’re stressed out it can actually worsen an autoimmune disease and its effect on your immune system. Chronic stress itself can damage your gut, which is the gateway to your health.

WHAT KIND OF YEAST ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?

There are hundreds of types of yeast. Sometimes women can get yeast overgrowth, known as candida. Candida is a fungus that lives in your mouth and intestines to help you digest and absorb what you eat. It keeps your good gut bacteria in check and immune system running smoothly. Sometimes the balance can be off and that’s when the yeast begins to multiply rapidly. Candida can take over your gut and damage the lining of your digestive tract, and exit through your bloodstream to impact your whole body.

There are more than 20 species of candida, according to the CDC. You can get it in the mouth, known as “thrush” or and Candidiasis in the vagina is known by all of society as a “yeast infection.” Invasive candidiasis happens when Candida species enter the bloodstream.

WHAT STRESS HAS TO DO WITH IT

Stress can really wreck your digestive and immune systems. Stress can be physical, mental or emotional and can push your adrenal glands to go into overdrive.

Your adrenal glands are the hormone powerhouse and when you’re stressed they release a flood of stress hormones, and the mother of them all: cortisol. Cortisol creates inflammation and affects your digestive system and immune system. Its day job is to tell your immune system when it’s time to respond to a wound or injury. As we have evolved and develop different types of stress, such as work or relationship-related stress, those are long-term and often chronic forms of stress. They literally don’t go away that easy and your body is like ‘WHAT THE HELL?’

And when your stress response kicks in, your digestive system starts to shut down, Meyers says.

SHAKE UP YOUR SYSTEM

There are steps you can take to prevent yeast infections with what you eat and your lifestyle.

“Before I tell you how I like to de-stress, I want to be clear – there is no one best way to relax and relieve stress,” Meyers says. “Everyone manages their stress differently, so don’t stress yourself out over trying to follow the perfect de-stressing routine.”

You can do stress relief practices to help prevent yourself from yeast infections. Meyers recommends you find what works best for you and stick with it:

  • Yoga
  • Hiking
  • Running
  • Spending time with family and friends
  • Gardening
  • Meditating, going to church or temple
  • Adopting a health or sleep app that can increase your rest time.
  • Relaxing bath