How much do you know about hormones and hormonal imbalance? One random thing almost everyone knows about female hormones is their role in sexual activities. Yet, that’s not all about them, as these hormones do more, aside from their standard functions.
But when they are not balanced, they cause infections too. Mind you, infections caused by fluctuating hormones cover yeast and bacterial infections. It is good to state this often, as people limit the infections to STIs alone.
There are different ways to know if one has vaginal infections. You can see yeast and bacterial infections as vagina itching, swelling, or discharge. Though curing them is easy, preventing them is much better. But to prevent infections, you must understand how hormonal imbalances cause them.
For most women, hormonal imbalances arise from standard birth control methods. Yet, you can’t say the same for all women. Some women have hormone imbalances without using birth control.
Regardless of how it starts, the end of hormonal imbalance is the same for most. That is, it increases one’s risk of infections.
So how does imbalance lead to infection? In this article, you will learn more about hormonal imbalances. As you read on, you will also learn about how they can cause infections.
8 Ways Hormonal Imbalances Lead to Infections
Sex hormones control many functions of the female system. But, to a large extent, it causes infections too.
Here are the top ways hormonal imbalances lead to infections. For emphasis, we grouped some so you can understand better.
Direct Effect on the Immune System
Fluctuating hormones affect the immune system of females with them. Since it affects the immune system, it means the hormones play a part in how much one resists infections.
When estrogen levels are high, the immune system produces more antibodies. More antibodies increase immune activities. The increased activities lead to autoimmune responses in some cases. In an autoimmune response, the body destroys its cells, including those that protect it. The body also destroys good bacteria increasing the risk of infections.
To add, high levels of estrogen reduce the activity of the thymus gland. The drop in activity reduces immune activities. Likewise, low estrogen levels lower immune activity, increasing the risk of infections.
To reduce the risk of infections, you must balance progesterone and estrogen. This is because the immune system does better when sex hormones are within the normal range.
Excessive Use of Birth Control
One side effect common with birth control users is the changing hormonal cycle. This causes vaginal dryness, as the woman’s system does not produce enough hormones as she ought to.
Also, hormonal therapy may help yeast to grow. There is a high amount of estrogen in the different birth control methods. The high estrogen causes the vagina to produce more sugar. And yeasts grow better in a sugar environment as they feed off sugars.
For other women, birth control changes the vagina’s PH. The acidic PH of the vagina helps limit the growth of microorganisms. The increase in PH leads to vagina itching and dryness. And relieving itch in the vagina area is not a very easy job unless you get help.
Abnormal Estrogen And Progesterone Levels
There’s a link between abnormal estrogen levels and fungal infections, especially candida. As a result, abnormal estrogen levels create a situation where microbes grow better.
Women far from experiencing menopause are at a higher risk of these infections. This is because they experience vaginal dryness and PH changes the most.
Yet, increased progesterone reduces the growth of candida. Progesterone also suppresses growth genes, reducing the risk of fungal and bacterial infections.
But when progesterone drops, females are less likely to enjoy its benefits. Hence, fungal infections like candida can take over.
Increased Susceptibility During Pregnancy
Pregnant women are the most vulnerable to infections. Vagina infections occur in pregnancy due to changes in the immune system. Production of glycogen increases, as well as estrogen levels during pregnancy.
If you are reading this as a pregnant woman, it would be great if you don’t get too bothered about yeast infections. Yeast infections are common in most pregnant women. So in trying to find relief, be careful your choice does not affect the child you are carrying.
Bacterial vaginosis is easy to treat, so you shouldn’t leave it untreated. Yet, you have to be careful. Wrong or faulty treatments can cause premature birth or preterm labor.
Post Menopausal Imbalance
Women above menopause show a decrease in estrogen levels. Remember estrogen is vital for vagina lubrication, amongst others. Estrogen is for vagina wall thickness and regulation of blood flow.
Due to the fall in the production of estrogen, vagina tissues become thinner. As a result, the vagina also becomes drier, fragile, and more susceptible to infections. Also, extreme vagina dryness causes wounds and cracks. These cracks host harmful yeasts and bacteria, increasing the chances of infections.
Immature Hormonal Profile
Research shows that younger females have a higher chance of getting infections. Good examples of some of these infections are papillomavirus and chlamydia infections. This happens because adolescent females are not biologically mature. Hence, most have hormonal imbalances.
Sometimes, hormonal instability manifests as low estrogen concentration. The imbalance makes more young females susceptible to having polycystic ovaries. And polycystic ovaries put them at a higher risk of infections.
Irregular Menstrual Cycle
Sexual maturation does not complete until several years after the first menstruation. This causes an imbalance in the menstrual cycle of young females too.
The imbalance that comes with irregular menstrual periods increases vagina PH. And whatever reduces vagina acidity reduces the protective bacteria, lactobacilli. The increase in PH favors the growth of harmful bacteria and fungi.
High-Risk Sexual Behaviors
Females who practice risky sexual behaviors stand a higher chance of infections. And it doesn’t depend on whether they transmit the infections through sex or not.
Women who have higher sexual activities tend to use more birth control methods. More birth control means a higher chance of hormonal imbalance. Hence, a higher risk of infections.
People who engage in unsafe sexual activities stand a higher risk of the first infection. They also stand a risk of reinfections than the average person. Yet, the first infection makes you prone to reinfections.
Also, constant sexual activities increase the risk of chlamydia trachomatis.
Mild hormonal imbalances are pretty common amongst females. But if you are not careful, it may cause serious infections too. And serious vaginal infections may be a recurring problem whether you keep your vaginal healthy or not.
If you keep having recurring infections, it will help if you get help. That is a better option than the frequent use of over-the-counter drugs.