Under ideal circumstances, the female vagina does a wonderful job of staying healthy all by itself.
Change the normally healthy pH of the vaginal area, however, and an imbalance can allow the overgrowth of the yeast candida albicans, resulting in a yeast infection.
Among the common reasons for this change in circumstances are hormonal changes, such as with your period or pregnancy, stress or illness, taking antibiotics, or even using birth control pills. Vaginal yeast infections can be extremely uncomfortable, but are not usually harmful.
To avoid a yeast infection, you should allow your genital area to get plenty of air. This means choosing cotton underwear over synthetics.
Do not wear tight fitting or synthetic clothing for long periods of time; tight jeans and wet bathing suits are common culprits. Do not wear snug fitting pantyhose or tights every day. Try sleeping without panties, or try loose fitting men’s boxers or boxer briefs.
You should only take antibiotics when they are necessary. Whenever you take antibiotics, take a quality probiotic supplement to help maintain the healthy bacteria in your digestive system and vagina. Some women find eating yogurt with active cultures to be helpful.
In the bathroom, make sure you wipe from front to back to avoid introducing any bacteria into the vaginal area. Choose white toilet paper that is not perfumed.
Avoid using “feminine deodorants” or scented tampons, feminine hygiene sprays, and do not douche unless your doctor recommends it. Also avoid using bubble bath or other bath products which can affect the vaginal pH. Use only gentle products to clean the genital area.
If you suspect a yeast infection, see your health care provider. The symptoms of vaginal infections can be hard to differentiate among, and you want to make sure you receive the proper treatment as soon as possible.
If you are diagnosed with a yeast infection, your doctor will either prescribe oral medication, or suggest that you use an over the counter product.
Most over the counter products are either creams or special suppositories that are applied inside the vagina with a special applicator.
If the yeast infection does not clear up completely with a single course of treatment, or if you have frequent recurrent yeast infections, be sure to talk with your health care provider.
You may have a different type of infection, require a different type of treatment, or you could be suffering from another condition which is predisposing you to yeast infections, such as diabetes.