How To Prevent Vaginal Infections






I base my practice on prevention, and prevention is key when it comes to vaginal infections. Vaginal infections are extremely common in women, some tend to be more susceptible than others. Symptoms can vary, but they include itchiness, abnormal discharge, odor, and/or even pain. 

Below lists the best ways to prevent vaginal infections:

No wet bathing suit bottoms

This is a very common reason for bacterial infections, especially in women who were just on vacation and during the summer. Bring a change of clothes with you to the pool to prevent walking around all day in damp bottoms. 

Shower immediately after exercise

Avoid leaving the gym without taking a shower. Brunch can wait, you need to shower immediately following a sweaty workout because the longer bacteria and sweat interact, the greater the likelihood of an infection to develop.




Take a probiotic

I’ve had mixed results with this one. For some women taking a probiotic drastically cuts back on vaginal infections, and for others it doesn’t seem to make much difference. A probiotic can help increase the healthy flora in the vagina and prevent over growth of bad bacteria or yeast that can cause unpleasant side effects. Aim for a probiotic that has at least 5 billion CFUs. Good food sources may include kefir and kombucha.

Use condoms

Especially with a new partner, sex introduces different bacteria to the vagina which can through off the normal flora. This can lead to an overgrowth of organisms that cause infection, and an undergrowth of good bacteria that keeps things normal. It’s always a good idea to use condoms anyway, this is just one more potential added benefit.

Change your pad more frequently

This is for women who wear pads during their period, or even panty liners for spotting. The longer you wear a soiled pad or panty liner, the more you are introducing bacteria to grow near the vagina. I recommend changing your pad at least a few times per day depending how much spotting you have.




Wear loser bottoms

This means wear looser underwear, leggings, pants or shorts. When things get too compact this can cause heat and sweat buildup, which makes you more susceptible to having an overgrowth of yeast or other organism. Good excuse to wear a dress or skirt during the summer when its hot!




Wipe from front to back

This is probably the most important (and most simple) piece of advise for how to prevent vaginal infections. Always ALWAYS wipe from front to back. If you wipe back to front you are greater risk for spreading bacteria from your anal area to your vagina – the most common bacteria being E. coli. 




Main take aways..

The common theme of the above it that organisms that cause infection like dark, damp areas, so anything that makes the vagina more moist is going to be a risk factor for infection.

References

  1. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/bacterial-vaginosis
  2. epocrates.com





About the author: Sarah-Kate Rems is an Ivy-league trained Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner licensed in California with an expertise in women’s health and preventative healthcare. She considers nutrition and exercise to be the basis of well-being and is a strong advocate for daily physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet. Sarah-Kate is also a co-founder of The Mindful Tech Lab

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