How To Prevent Yeast Infections: 10 Things To Avoid At All Costs

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how to prevent yeast infections

Yeast infections are one of the most common feminine health problems in the world, and boy, are they painful. They itch, they burn, and they seem to happen at the drop of a hat. Most women have, at one point or another, experienced a yeast infection.

What causes yeast infections? These infections aren’t STDs, really. They are an excess growth of candida yeast, a naturally-occurring flora in a woman’s vagina. Though some yeast naturally lives down there, if a woman’s pH balance gets knocked off kilter, it’s possible to have the yeast overproduce, which, in turn, causes a yeast infection. If only there was a method for how to prevent yeast infections.

Around three out of every four women while have at least one yeast infection during their lifetimes. Though they are super common and super annoying, there is some good news here. Yeast infections are preventable in many situations, and if you know what steps to take, you could easily reduce the number of infections you experience during your lifetime.

RELATED: 5 Homeopathic Ways To Help Treat Your Yeast Infection At Home

In many cases, avoiding bad habits, certain foods, and certain drugs is all you have to do to avoid yeast from ruining your day. Here are some of the easiest ways for how to prevent yeast infections, according to doctors.

1. Avoid using antibiotics unless they are absolutely necessary.

Bacteria is not always a bad thing. Healthy bacteria helps regulate the natural balance our bodies have evolved to have. While we should get rid of bacterial infections, we should do our best to preserve good bacteria in their habitats.

The Mayo Clinic had noted that your body’s natural bacteria is what often regulates the amount of yeast that exists between your legs. Using excessive amounts of antibiotics can kill off the protective bacteria that prevents yeast infections. So, if you have been trying to take “preventative” antibiotics for an illness you don’t have, knock it off.

2. Don’t douche.

Oh, how feminine cleanliness product manufacturers have fooled us! If you talk to any OB/GYN, they will tell you that douching is actually really bad for your body’s natural balance. Along with potentially killing off good bacteria, douching can also throw your body’s natural pH balance off.

Yeast infections thrive when a woman’s vaginal pH balance strays from the norm. If you have had a yeast infection after starting up a new vaginal “cleansing” habit, then you probably have figured this out. Your vagina cleans itself; there’s no need to douche unless something is already wrong.

3. Avoid estrogen-based hormone treatments.

A surprising amount of women notice an uptick in yeast infections once they switch to estrogen-based birth control, such as the pill. This isn’t surprising. Excessive estrogen levels have been linked to higher levels of glycogen. Glycogen is a form of sugar that yeast loves to eat, and when there’s more food for yeast, more yeast will reproduce.

If you recently switched to the pill or have started hormone treatments, you might want to talk to your doctor about yeast infections as a side effect. They will probably be able to prescribe you a progesterone-based alternative, or give you a similarly effective alternative.

4. Nix the scented pads, tampons, and products.

Scented feminine products were invented with the best of intentions, but in reality, they actually may exacerbate a lot of “girl problems.” While they might smell great, the fragrances that are used in them have been known to skew pH balances in the wrong way. Many fragrances also irritate the vagina, which adds even more risk of a yeast infection for women who have sensitive skin.

Want to stay yeast infection-free during that time of the month? It’s not that hard to do. A better alternative would be to stick to unscented products, or better still, consider using a silicone menstrual cup rather than cotton goods. Silicone has no effect on body pH.

5. While you’re at it, avoid nylon underwear and tight-fitting clothing.

Yeast loves warm, dark, and wet places. Your vagina is already three for three on all of those qualities, so adding even more elements that make those conditions more extreme isn’t wise. What we’re saying is that you need to give your vagina a little air to breathe.

Certain undergarment materials, such as nylon and polyester, tend to lock in air, heat and moisture. This is not a good thing if you’re trying to prevent yeast infections! Wearing cotton underwear, or going commando while wearing loose-fitting clothing, can help reduce yeast-related issues immensely.

RELATED: 8 Things Your Vagina Desperately Wants You To Know

6. When Aunt Flo visits, change your pad or tampon frequently.

Hygiene does matter when it comes to yeast infection prevention. The excess moisture from products that are soaked through can cause yeast to start getting out of control, especially if you use pads or pantyliners. By changing your supplies frequently, you keep a level of dryness down there — and that can make a huge difference.

7. Avoid wiping back to front when you’re in the bathroom.

This advice is often doled out to women who suffer from frequent UTIs, but it also remains true for women who suffer from frequent yeast infections. If you wipe back to front, the bacteria that your toilet paper picks up from your rear end will end up on your vagina.

Bacteria from fecal matter can throw off pH, kill off good bacteria that is naturally in the area, and can even contain extra yeast. By wiping front to back, you’re reducing the chances of that gross stuff hitting your girl parts and causing an infection of any sort.

8. Avoid hot tubs and excess bath bombs.

As much as it pains me to say this (and it does, since I’m a bath bomb fanatic), bath bombs and other typical “spa” fun really isn’t good for women who are trying to prevent frequent yeast infections. In fact, there’s a good chance that you may be struggling with yeast infections as a direct result of your daily bath sessions.

Hot tubs and piping hot baths may feel great, but they aren’t great for your vagina. The heat and moisture can easily throw off your natural pH or just create a more yeast-friendly condition for growth. Warm baths or hot showers are often a better choice in that respect.

When it comes to bath bombs and other spa goodies, we’ve got some bad news. The salt, sodium bicarbonate, and fragrances are all known for killing off good bacteria in your vagina. They also can irritate sensitive skin down there if you’re really unlucky. If you’ve been dealing with yeast infections, you may need to cut down on your spa night.

Don’t take it from me. In a recent Metro article, Dr. Vanessa Mackay of Britain’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, noted, “It’s a good idea to avoid perfumed soaps, gels and antiseptics as these can affect the healthy balance of bacteria and pH levels in the vagina and cause irritation.”

9. Oh, and if you’re a swimmer, take off that wet swimsuit.

This goes back to the way that yeast tends to thrive in warm, dark, moist conditions. Swimsuits are mostly made of nylon, which tends to trap moisture down there. Once you’re done taking a swim, remove your swimsuit and dry off. Your girl parts will thank you.

10. Finally, don’t sleep with someone who has a yeast infection.

Though yeast infections can happen sporadically, it’s also possible to get a yeast infection from a sexual partner who currently has an untreated yeast infection. Both men and women can get yeast infections, so make sure that your partner isn’t treating a yeast infection before you two get it on.

RELATED: 5 Reasons Your Vagina Itches (And 5 Ways To Stop It)

Ossiana Tepfenhart is a Jack-of-all-trades writer based out of Red Bank, New Jersey. When she's not writing, she's drinking red wine and chilling with some cool cats. You can follow her @bluntandwitty on Twitter.