Are you one of the numerous women that suffer recurring vaginal yeast infections? As many as 5% of all women get four or more vaginal yeast infections in a year, a condition known as recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis (RVVC). Despite the fact that you spend time and money trying to keep your vaginal area as hygienic as possible, you keep getting infections. Why?
In fact, it may be that some of your cleansing efforts are encouraging the problem. It is now known that douches, deodorant sprays, scented powders, and other feminine products may do more harm than good and act as a catalyst for yeast infections.
Scented Feminine Hygiene Products Should Be Avoided
Many women love using products that smell nice because they want to smell good and feel fresh. So feminine hygiene products touted to make you smell “like a spring bouquet” or “misty mountain morning” attract women. Who doesn’t want to smell good, right?
Unfortunately, the reason those products smell so appealing is because they contain potent chemicals that create that pleasant scent. The vagina, much like your intestinal tract, has a natural bacterial balance and PH level that needs to be maintained to prevent infections. The chemicals in scented feminine goods can disrupt that equilibrium, making you vulnerable to RVVC.
Scented feminine products come in many forms, including:
Scented sanitary pads
Laundry detergents and fabric softeners you use on your underwear
In order to help prevent yeast infections, it is best to choose unscented varieties of these products.
A Cautionary Word about Douching
In the mid-1800s, a birth control advocate named Dr. Charles Knowlton declared that douching was the best form of birth control available and the popularity of douching spread across America. At the time, however, birth control was illegal and so douching products were advertised and discussed as feminine hygiene products. Over the years, douching became a routine part of feminine hygiene care for many women.
We’ve since learned that douching is not an effective form of birth control and it is also now known that douching can actually be harmful. The vagina is designed to be “self-cleaning” and your own natural discharge is meant to wash away harmful bacteria. Douching, particularly with scented products or white vinegar, inhibits that discharge and can damage beneficial flora. That weakens the vagina’s immunity and upsets the PH balance, triggering infections, ectopic pregnancies, and additional difficulties.
It is now believed that douching should be avoided unless prescribed by a doctor.
New Study Regarding Dangers of Some Sexual Lubricants Released
Researchers at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) studied 141 sexually active women between the ages of 18-65. They discovered that 70% of women use sexual lubricants on a regular basis; 75% of women over 50 fell into that category. Of that number, 25% of them used petroleum products like Vaseline or oils, such as baby oil, as vaginal lubricants
The results? The women who used oils and petroleum products as vaginal lubricants were twice as likely to suffer yeast and bacterial infections as those who did not use these products. It was found that 44% of those women tested positive for Candida, the bacteria that causes yeast infections, compared to 5% of those women who did not use oils in their vaginas.
Sexual lubricants are available in three basic forms: water-based, oil-based, and silicone-based. You saw the report from UCLA about the oil-based lubricants and know those are not a good choice. Water-based lubes often contain glycerin, a form of sugar and sugar feeds yeast, another undesirable option. Silicone-based lubes are the safest bet for women who are prone to yeast infections, though you may find some water-based products that do not contain glycerin that are okay to use. Prevention.com lists which lubricants to avoid for yeast infections.
Other Hygiene Tips to Avoid Yeast Infections
Yeast love to grow in areas that are warm, damp, and dark, so vaginas are prime locations for the bacteria to multiply. By avoiding scented feminine products, douching, and the wrong sexual lubricants, you have taken big strides towards discouraging vaginal yeast infections. Here are some other helpful hygiene tips you should follow:
Wear loose clothing – Air circulation is important so avoid skintight pants and undies.
Wear cotton underwear – Cotton wicks moisture away from your skin and helps keep the genitalia dryer.
Limit long soaks in the tub – Though long soaks in the tub feel great, the heat and dampness encourages yeast. Don’t make this a daily habit.
Use mild soap or plain water to cleanse the vaginal area – That’s all that’s necessary, really.
Dry the area thoroughly after bathing or swimming – Don’t wear wet bathing suits any longer than necessary.
If, after following these steps, you are still suffering from recurrent yeast infections, speak to your physician about other conditions that may fuel the infections, including diabetes, pregnancy, and long term use of antibiotics or oral birth control.