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Can Steroids Cause Yeast Infection? (Backed by Science)

Michael Garrico
Published by Michael Garrico
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED

Steroids can enhance your physique quickly, but their risks definitely outweigh the benefits.

Recently, I came across a case of a university student who contracted a fungal infection on account of a doctor-prescribed steroid. After digging into the matter, I learned a good number of steroid users succumbed to yeast infection.

However, correlation isn’t always causation. So, I teamed up with a group of college researchers and reviewed a number of published cases to get to the bottom of it.

Here's what we found.

Quick Summary

  • Fungal infections from steroid use are sometimes a result of poor needle hygiene.
  • The use of anabolic-androgenic steroids has been linked to various diseases.
  • Both anabolic steroids and corticosteroid use may lead to severe side effects.

Do Steroids Cause a Yeast Infection?

A doctor looking at a clipboard

Yes, long-term steroid use can indirectly cause a yeast infection. Both anabolic-androgenic steroids and corticosteroids —especially the latter — have been known to cause fungal infection in many cases.

We’ll take a look at both these steroids, how they may cause an infection, and some research studies to back up the science.

Related Articles:

Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids are steroid hormones made either in the adrenal glands or synthetically.

They’re mainly used to treat inflammation and other illnesses [1].

However, many studies have found a strong correlation between corticosteroids and fungal infection.

Corticosteroids (like prednisone, hydrocortisone, and cortisone), whether inhaled or taken orally, are linked to an infection, especially with common bacterial, viral, and fungal microorganisms [2].

This is most likely because they suppress a proper and timely immune response to pathogens.

One of the largest fungal-steroid outbreaks in the US took place in mid-September 2012.

However, in this case, seven hundred fifty-one patients were reported to have succumbed to yeast infection due to contaminated corticosteroid injections [3].

While the steroid itself didn't seem to be the source of these complications, carelessness with the medication allowed it to develop the mold that caused complications.

In a 2019 clinical analysis, researchers examined the differences between topical steroid users and non-users. The study found symptoms of fungal keratitis were more common and serious in steroid users than non-users [4].

“Glucocorticoids are very commonly prescribed and the risks of infections with glucocorticoids may not always be discussed thoroughly.”

- Dr. Michael George, MD, Rheumatologist

Anabolic Steroids

Anabolic steroids spread out on a table

The severity of fungal infection as a result of anabolic steroid use isn’t as strong as with corticosteroids.

But, in my experience, I’ve seen many anabolic steroid users succumb to bacterial infections on account of poor needle hygiene.

A good number of steroid users are young, impressionable people who want to get a lean and muscular body as fast as possible.

So, many of them end up taking anabolics together, and in one too many cases, they share needles.

So, it’s no surprise when they end up spreading diseases.

Researchers found that a number of anabolic steroid users contracted HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, abscesses, and fungal endophthalmitis [5]. However, the researchers could track only one case of fungal infection. The other diseases had a higher count.

However, some studies have shown anabolic steroid users are more susceptible to other kinds of infection.

A 2014 study found that anabolic androgenic steroid users (all non-smokers) had a higher prevalence of severe periodontitis and gingival inflammation (both dental illnesses) compared to non-users.

Are Yeast Infections From Corticosteroids Serious?

Yes, some caused by corticosteroids can be quite serious [6].

These include:

  • Coccidioidomycosis (Valley fever)
  • Cryptococcosis
  • Histoplasmosis
  • Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP)
  • Invasive candida infection
  • Invasive aspergillosis

FAQs

Do All Performance Enhancing Drugs Cause Fungal Infection?

No, not all performance-enhancing drugs cause a fungal infection.

While many corticosteroids increase the risk of fungal infection, most of the infection risk from anabolic steroids usually comes from sharing needles.

How Do Steroid Users Prevent Infections?

Steroid users prevent infections by practicing good needle hygiene and using clean needles when injecting steroids.

However, this only decreases the likelihood of infection risk. Prevention comes from avoiding steroids altogether.

Don’t Risk The Steroids

Taking corticosteroids for severe medical reasons is understandable, but many people use anabolics to enhance their workout.

Given the risk of fungal infection and the fact they are illegal without a prescription, steroids are not the best route.

A better way to go about your fitness journey would be to take only the best legal steroids that we have tried and tested for efficacy ourselves.

Containing only natural ingredients, they won’t cause any side effects.

In our testing, they proved to be a great way to increase natural testosterone levels, build muscle and strength, and shed body fat.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1751559/
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/steroids/art-20045692
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27227303/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31619199/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10606223/
  6. https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/infections/immune-system.html
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