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Avoid These 7 Habits If You Don't Want A Yeast Infection

Ditching certain habits will reduce your risk for yeast infections. Don’t wear tight jeans or underwear, especially on hot days. Wear loose-fitting clothing, cotton underwear, and moisture-absorbing fabric during exercise, and avoid lingering in wet swimsuits. To protect the vagina’s yeast-controlling bacteria, never douche or wear a tampon for more than 4 hours. Keep your immune system strong with exercise, stress relief, and sleep. Refrain from eating lots of sugar, because it’ll just help yeast thrive.

If you’re like most women, the thought of a vaginal yeast infection is enough to make you cringe. You’re not alone, though! Nearly 75% of women will get one in their lifetime. For half of them, there will be the second episode, and it’s never fun.

Medically known as candidal vaginitis or candidiasis, yeast infections are the second most common vaginal disorder. (The first is bacterial vaginosis or BV.) It’s caused by Candida albicans, a yeast that normally lives inside the body without issues. You can find it on the skin and in the mouth, throat, gut, and vagina.1

The problem starts when Candida grows and grows. This causes annoying symptoms like itching, burning, soreness, and abnormal white discharge. Having sex or urinating will be a literal pain. As always, prevention is easier than treatment. Do yourself a favor and learn about the everyday habits that might bring on a yeast infection. Here are a few steps you can take to keep away from yeast infections.2

1. Avoid Wearing Tight Jeans

Wear loose clothes, as it will provide adequate ventilation

Skinny jeans might be a fashion staple, but they’re perfect for yeast overgrowth. These pants don’t let the vagina breathe! Body heat and moisture can easily increase, especially on hot days. Avoid wearing tight jeans every day. Alternate with looser clothing, like harem pants or boyfriend jeans. Reach for linen pants or dresses during the summer.3

2. Wear Cotton Underwear

Cotton underwear absorbs moisture

Loose pants won’t matter if you’re wearing tight undies. Limit nylon, polyester, and spandex fabric. When possible, slip into underwear made with 100% cotton, as it won’t retain moisture or warmth. Still, want to wear non-cotton underwear? Find a pair with a cotton crotch.4

3. Stop Douching

Washing the vagina often kills the good bacteria

The vagina’s natural bacteria keep yeast under control. Douching, however, can kill this bacteria off. Perfumes and chemicals will only irritate the skin, making douches a terrible idea. Besides, the vagina is capable of self-cleaning. It produces mucus to wash away blood, semen, and vaginal discharge. Why not let the vagina do its thing?5

4. Do Not Wear Sweaty Or Wet Clothes

Wearing sweaty and wet clothes increase the chance of yeast production

After exercising, change out of your clothes as soon as possible. Walking around in damp, warm clothes will only help yeast thrive. The same goes for swimming in the pool or ocean. Wet bathing suits are bad news, so don’t let it linger. For workouts, consider moisture-wicking underwear. It’ll pull sweat away from the skin, letting your vagina have some breathing room.

5. Change Your Tampon Often

Tampons must be changed often

Use tampons wisely. Like anything else that enters the vagina, a tampon can mess with the bacterial balance and pH. Leaving it in for too long will up the risk for not only a vaginal yeast infection but a toxic shock syndrome, too. As a general rule of thumb, change tampons every 4 hours, and never use scented ones. At night, opt for a pad or menstrual cup.6

6. Maintain A Healthy Lifestyle

A healthy lifestyle maintains a healthy immune system

Need another reason to eat well and get enough sleep? A healthy immune system controls yeast growth. On the other hand, weakened immunity can’t do the job, because Candida can easily overthrow it.7

Take care of yourself. Make stress relief and sleep a priority, no matter how crazy life gets. The immune system’s fighter cells will slow down if you don’t snooze. Reach for nutritious foods and stay active, even if it’s just 30 minutes each day.8

7. Limit Sugar Intake

Sugar encourages the growth of yeast

“Healthy” eating is a two-way street. Aside from enjoying foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, avoid too much sugar. It doubles as food for yeast. There’s a reason why uncontrolled diabetes is associated with recurring yeast infections. When there’s more glucose in the body, yeast will thrive.9

Already dealing with a yeast infection? Visit the gynecologist for an official diagnosis and prescription anti-fungal medication. If you’ve had one in the past – and recognize the symptoms – an over-the-counter treatment will do.

References   [ + ]

1. Dou, Na, Weiping Li, E. Zhou, Chan Wang, Zhaozhao Xiao, and Honghui Zhou. “Risk factors for candida infection of the genital tract in the tropics.” African health sciences 14, no. 4 (2014): 835-839.
2. Vaginal Candidiasis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
3, 4. Vaginal Yeast Infections. WomensHealth.gov, Office on Women’s Health.
5. Douching. WomensHealth.gov, Office on Women’s Health.
6. Toxic shock syndrome (TSS). BetterHealth Channel, Victoria State Government.
7. Yeast Infection. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.
8. Besedovsky, Luciana, Tanja Lange, and Jan Born. Sleep and immune function. European Journal of Physiology 463.1(2012):121-137.
9. Donders, Gilbert GG, Hans Prenen, Geert Verbeke, and Reinhilde Reybrouck. “Impaired tolerance for glucose in women with recurrent vaginal candidiasis.” American journal of obstetrics and gynecology 187, no. 4 (2002): 989-993.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.