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How to Prevent Yeast Infections

Updated on February 20, 2016

Why Yeast Infections Happen

Our bodies contain naturally occurring yeast and bacteria, which work to balance each other, keeping our vaginas healthy. However, if this balance of yeast (candida) and bacteria (lactobacillusis) becomes disrupted, a yeast infection (Vulvovaginal candidiasis) can happen.

Many things can cause imbalance: medications, pregnancy, and lifestyle are just a few. This article will supply you with education and easy tips to prevent and get rid yeast infections.

Wear breathable cotton
Wear breathable cotton

Change your clothes...often

Yeast grows abundantly in damp and warm places that trap moisture, so you want to avoid providing that kind of environment. Avoid wearing clothes made of synthetic fibers--they stop airflow and keep moisture in, creating a perfect environment for yeast to grow. Don't use clothing that's tight around the crotch, like legging or tights--you need airflow. Wear breathable clothes (cotton, silk, or linen) and change your underwear daily.

If you have a yeast infection, keep in mind that candida yeast can live in your underwear and clothes, so be sure to washing everything well, with hot water, and bleach if you can.

Proper clothing can go a long way in preventing and getting rid of yeast infections.

Avoid Scented Products

Chemicals such as inks and perfumes can irritate your genitals, upsetting the balance of yeast and bacteria, and worsening a yeast infection. Baths are fine, but don't use scented soaps or bubble baths. Steer clear of scented feminine hygiene products like tampons, pads, or hygiene sprays as they will just aggravate your vaginal walls.

If you find you are extremely sensitive to dyes and perfumes, you may want to check your laundry detergent as well. Luckily, there are plenty of eco-brand laundry detergents, and others without fragrances or additives.

Stop Douching

Douching, intended to clean the vagina, may seem like it could be beneficial for yeast infections, but the opposite is true. Douching purges your vagina of ALL bacteria--good and bad. It is this balance of vaginal bacteria and flora which helps maintains an properly acidic environment, keeping you healthy and yeast-infection free. Another downside to douching is that it can force bad bacteria up into your uterus and fallopian tubes, aggravating and worsening an already existing yeast infection.

It is for these reasons that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that women avoid douching unless specifically prescribed by a doctor. If you want to maintain vaginal cleanliness during a yeast infection (or to prevent future infections) there are better ways to achieve this. Use mild soap and warm water and do not force the water into your vagina. You can also try gently cleaning your genitals with a diluted mixture of hydrogen peroxide and warm water.

Apples are a good low-sugar fruit
Apples are a good low-sugar fruit

Change Your Diet

While you have a yeast infection, your body will find certain foods hard to digest. It is believed that high levels of sugar can contribute to, and worsen, yeast infections, so its best to avoid it. Even fruit (especially dried fruit) tend to have a lot of aggravating fructose, so try to get your vitamins from another source, or eat fruits low in sugar like apples, grapefruit, strawberries, and melon.

The sugar in alcohol is a direct food source for candida, so avoid drinking when you have a yeast infection. You should also avoid sugar-packed sodas and acidic coffee as these can exacerbate your infection. Instead, drink purified water and tea.

If you cannot say no to sugar, look for plant-derived substitutes like vegetable glycerine.

A copper IUD is a hormone-free way to prevent pregnancy
A copper IUD is a hormone-free way to prevent pregnancy

Lower Your Estrogen Levels

It is believed that yeast infections happen more often in an environment of high estrogen levels. Pregnant women are particularly prone to yeast infections as well as women taking oral contraceptives. The most common kind of birth control pill is known as the Combined Pill, which contains two hormones: estrogen and progestin. Due to the high level of these hormones in this type of contraception, many women will experience an overgrowth of Candida albicans, which will cause a yeast infection. Not only that, some birth control pills can weaken the immune system, making it harder to cure a yeast infection.

If you are susceptible to yeast infections, you may want to consider alternative birth control options. There are plenty of contraceptives that do not contain hormones since as condoms and contraceptive sponges as well as a copper IUD. If you prefer to take oral contraceptives, ask your doctor or gynecologist about the mini-pill which only contains one type of hormone, progestin.

Yeast Infection Treatments

I hope you find these tips helpful in your fight to prevent yeast infections. If you are looking for more yeast infection treatments (like natural apple cider vinegar and oil of oregano remedies), please see the article, "Natural Home Remedies for Yeast Infections."

What habits have you found that help prevent yeast infections?

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    • C Ferg profile image

      Colwynn 23 months ago

      Yes, probiotics are great for prevention for yeast infections, BV, and the like for sure!

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 23 months ago from Hamburg, New York

      They say eating a container of yogurt a day will help to prevent yeast infections.