Yeast infections are common -- and you often have more than one in a lifetime. While 75% of women have had at least one vaginal yeast infection during their lives, as many as 45% of women have had two or more.
While you can't always avoid a yeast infection, you can lower your risk of getting one. Follow these guidelines to avoid the itching, burning, and other discomforts.
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1. Wear cotton underwear, or at least wear panties with a cotton panel at the crotch. Avoid wearing panty liners, which can increase your risk of recurrent vaginal yeast infections. Yeast tend to overgrow in damp, moist environments and keeping moisture away from your body can help prevent yeast infections.
2. Avoid wearing tight-fitting pants and shorts, so you stay cool, dry, and "airy."
3. Avoid wearing nylon pantyhose or synthetic leotards every day. If you must wear these, choose the kind with a cotton panel to absorb moisture away from your body.
4. Change clothes from wet workout gear or a wet swimsuit as soon as you can, because a damp place is an ideal environment for a yeast infection to grow.
5. Don't use douches, scented powders, scented tampons, and feminine deodorant sprays. They contain chemicals and perfumes that upset the natural balance of "good" bacteria and other micro-organisms in the vagina.
6. Wipe from front to back after using the bathroom to avoid spreading bacteria from the anus to the vagina.
7. If you have diabetes, control your blood sugar levels to reduce your risk of yeast infections. Yeast infections and diabetes are linked -- in fact, high blood glucose levels from uncontrolled diabetes is linked to infections of all kinds.
8. Eating yogurt that contains live cultures of lactobacillus acidophilus, a natural, "friendly" bacteria, may help prevent yeast infections. However, a small study showed that women who consumed acidophilus-containing products had an increased risk of recurrent vaginal yeast infections.
9. If you have vaginal yeast infections after taking antibiotics, talk with your doctor about preventive antifungal therapy at the start and end of your antibiotics.
10. Finally, try to eat a healthy diet and manage stress. Although it's not confirmed by medical research, some women say that too much sugar, beer, and stress can trigger their yeast infections.
In general, eating well-balanced, nutritious meals and taking time out to relax helps keep your immune system running well -- and prevents infections of all kinds, including vaginal yeast infections. A balanced lifestyle also boosts your overall health and feelings of well-being.