Harvard Women's Health Watch

Ask the doctor: Can I get a yeast infection after menopause?

Q. I am 65 and recently developed a yeast infection. Aren't these infections unusual in postmenopausal women?

A. Vaginal yeast infection occurs at least once in about 75% of women. You are correct that yeast infections are not as common after menopause, but they still account for some cases of vaginitis (inflammation of the vagina). An overgrowth of the microorganism Candida albicans is usually responsible.

A common cause of yeast overgrowth in women of any age is the use of antibiotics, which are used to treat urinary and other bacterial infections, but can also kill the bacteria that keep yeast in balance. Candida overgrowth also tends to occur in women who are pregnant, take oral contraceptives containing high doses of estrogen, or have diabetes, and in women whose immune systems are suppressed. Risk may also be increased by using some contraceptive products, such as sponges or douches, or by wearing tight, poorly ventilated clothing and underwear.

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