Simple Lifestyle Changes Can Keep Dreaded Yeast Infections At Bay

Diet and quick change of wet clothing top of to-do list.

MASON, Ohio (May 14, 2018) – The itching and burning symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection can be powerful enough to turn a woman's day upside down.

A yeast infection is an imbalance in the microorganisms inside a woman's vagina. The vagina has its own ecosystem containing good and bad bacteria. An overgrowth of bacteria can lead to a yeast infection and/or bacterial vaginitis. Each comes with its own set of symptoms and can occur at any point throughout a woman's lifetime.

“Women are prone to getting yeast infections for good reason,” said Stacy Hudepohl, a certified nurse midwife with the Center for Women's Health and Wellness. “Yeast is part of the fungi family and like any other fungi, it thrives in cool, damp places, which describes the environment in a woman's vagina.”

Yeast infections may not be a serious condition in and of themselves, but their symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable for a woman, and in some cases can point to another underlying cause.

“The biggest symptom of a yeast infection is itching. It can be internal or external, and in many cases can be extreme. It can be overwhelming and uncontrollable,” said Ms. Hudepohl, who practices with Premier Physician Network. “Women can also experience a thick, white discharge.”

Thankfully, most yeast infections can be cured with over-the-counter medication or with an oral prescription that doesn't require the use of external creams. Yeast infections that do not go away with treatment or that seem to reoccur on an unusually frequent basis should be evaluated by a provider.

“Yeast infections can mimic other health conditions such as vaginitis or some sexually transmitted diseases,” she said. “An overgrowth of yeast can also be a signal that a woman is dealing with diabetes.”

Every woman is susceptible to a yeast infection just because of the nature of her anatomy, but there are steps she can take to reduce her risk for developing the infection in the first place.

Watch what you wear – Certain clothing and the way they fit against a woman's body can have a significant impact on yeast growth. Quickly change out of wet clothing such as a bathing suit or workout clothes after use. Choose underwear that is made of cotton or at least has a cotton lining, and make sure they don't fit too snugly.

Keep it clean and dry – Regular showers help keep the at-risk area clean so be mindful of how often you bathe and also be careful to soap and rinse properly. Make sure the area is dried properly after a shower and before dressing. Some women use the cool setting on a dryer to lightly dry the vaginal area.

Be mindful of antibiotics – Antibiotics may help clear the body of an unwanted bacterial infection, but it doesn't discriminate between good and bad bacteria. The result can be an imbalance of bacteria that leads to yeast infections. Talk to your provider about possibly starting on treatment for yeast infections at the end of an antibiotic course to avoid an infection.

Adjust your diet – Acidophilus and lactobacilli are two live cultures that help prevent the overgrowth of the yeast organism. These can be found in foods such as yogurt or consumed through supplements. It can also be found in fermented foods such as Kombucha.

“Women need to be aware of their bodies and that not all treatments are created the same,” she said. “It's important for women to consult with their provider whenever their symptoms are questionable or not going away. A lot of times women think they know what is going on when it could be something totally different.” 

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