Can a yeast infection cause infertility?

woman in the bathroom
Photo credit: / RossHelen
No, having a yeast infection won't directly affect your chances of getting pregnant, but it might impact you in another way. The reason? The itchiness, irritation, soreness and swelling that the infection brings may cause sex to be uncomfortable. But don't worry, symptoms usually subside in less than a week if treated. 

What is a yeast infection?

A yeast infection, which affects as many as three in four women at some point in their lives, is a fungal infection of the vagina and vulva. In fact, many women have at least two yeast infections throughout their lifetime, experiencing itchiness and a white, cheesy discharge. A yeast infection, which is also known as vaginal candidiasis, can also cause burning, irritation, and a rash on the outer lips of the vagina.

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What causes a yeast infection?

Most yeast infections are caused by a common fungus called candida albicans. Normally, the acid balance of the vagina keeps this fungus from multiplying. But a change in the vagina’s acidity can lead to an overgrowth of candida and prompt yeast – and an infection – to develop.

Too much yeast may be due to illness or an impaired immune system, menstruation, pregnancy, certain antibiotics, uncontrolled diabetes or birth control pills. Moist, tight clothing such as a wet bathing suit can also provide a prime breeding ground for yeast.

Can a yeast infection affect my ability to get pregnant?

Having a yeast infection does not affect your fertility, but having sex may be uncomfortable for a few days. Just watch out for certain yeast infection symptoms that may mimic more serious conditions. These may include bacterial vaginosis, gonorrhea and chlamydia, which infect the cervix and can cause scarring and blockage of your fallopian tubes, affecting your ability to get pregnant.

What can I do if I get a yeast infection while trying to get pregnant?

If you get a yeast infection while you’re trying to conceive, you can rest easy. This very common condition is simple to treat when symptoms are mild to moderate with over-the-counter vaginal antifungal medications (creams, tablets, suppositories) or the oral prescription drug Diflucan (fluconazole). Most medications work quickly too, in three to seven days.

Severe symptoms, however, may require a different approach with long-course vaginal therapy, like an antifungal that you take daily for up to two weeks and then continue weekly for several months. There's no danger in having sex while you're taking antifungal medications, but intercourse may further irritate the soreness and irritation you feel and delay healing.

If your symptoms don't go away after you finish taking the medication, see your provider, who can test for other infections with similar symptoms. It’s best to rule out and treat any other illnesses so you can clear the way for lots of healthy intercourse – and maybe even a baby on the way.

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Mayo Clinic. 2021. Yeast Infection (vaginal), a new window [Accessed July 2022]

Mayo Clinic. 2021. Female Infertility. a new window [Accessed July 2022]

American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2020. Bacterial vaginosis and its association with infertility, endometritis, and pelvic inflammatory disease. [Accessed July 2022]

National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, 2000. Infections and infertility. a new window [Accessed July 2022]

Jennifer Kelly Geddes

Jennifer Kelly Geddes is a New York City-based writer, editor, and fact-checker, and the mom of two teen girls. In her free time, Geddes can be found on her yoga mat, cross-country skiing, walking her rescue pup (a shepherd mix named Django), and spending time with her husband and daughters.