At any given time 20-25% of women have yeast in their vagina, but no symptoms. Over a 1-year period of time 70% of women will have yeast at some point. This doesn’t mean they have an infection, rather that yeast is often normally present in the vagina.
Most researchers and vaginitis experts (such as myself) believe a symptomatic yeast infection occurs when this yeast that is normally part of the vaginal ecosystem overgrows, essentially going from passenger to pathogen.
There are many factors associated with yeast infections, but I was recently asked about marijuana.
The literature tells us that smoking marijuana is associated with oral yeast infections, although the mechanism has not yet been fully elucidated. It may affect oral bacteria, local defense mechanisms, or be a co-factor/lifestyle factor.
A PubMed search resulted in one article for marijuana and vaginal yeast infections, Beigi et al from 2004 in the Green Journal (Obstetrics and Gynecology). Sharon Hillier is an author on the paper, so it is a well done publication and from a team that knows the vaginal milieu better than anyone.
What this article tells us is that marijuana use in the past 4 months is an independent risk factor for vaginal colonization with yeast. It increases the odds of having a positive yeast culture (not an infection, a positive culture) by 30%.
So what does this mean?
Smoking marijuana increases your risk of carrying yeast in your vagina, although the mechanism has yet to be elucidated. And so, if you are one of the 5% of women with chronic yeast infections there are probably many potential contributing factors. However, if you smoke marijuana, that might be one of those factors.
I’ll admit, one study does not the greatest evidence based medicine make. On the other hand, given the association with oral yeast infections as well, it’s probably worth giving up marijuana while you are trying to get a handle on your infections.