The Unexpected Habits That Can Lead to Yeast Infections
We tend to think of yeast infections as problems that rear their heads whenever they please, regardless of what we do. Of course, like any health condition, there certainly is an element of chance in when you might one. But there are a few common habits that might unknowingly put us at a higher risk.
If you want to avoid yeast infections—or at least, keep them to a minimum—here are four things to try not to do:
1. Wearing tight or damp clothesYeast infections thrive in warm, moist environments, and when your ladyparts don’t have room to breathe, your vagina is more likely to become such a place, says physician Lorraine Maita, M.D. Yoga pants and other tight clothes can make your more hospitable to yeast infections, especially in the summer, as can leaving your clothes on after working out or swimming.
2. Consuming foods or drinks that contain yeast or sugarIt almost seems too obvious to be true, but it’s not a myth: when you eat foods with yeast, it can get into the blood stream and enter the vagina from there, says Dr. Maita. And yeast infections feed on sugar and starch. Since beer and wine both contain yeast and sugar (alcohol is sugar fermented by yeast), excessive drinking can definitely be a recipe for yeast infections. You should also go easy on sweets, along with foods like moldy cheese, mushrooms, and anything fermented if you’re prone to yeast infections.
3. Over-using antibioticsWhile antibiotics may kill the bacteria causing an illness, the downside is that they also kill the healthy Lactobacillus bacteria, which keep the vagina’s pH levels low, explains ob-gyn Jamil Abdur-Rahman, M.D. When this bacteria is missing, the vagina becomes less acidic, making you more prone to yeast infections. Listen to your doctor, but keep an eye on the number of scripts you end up with.
4. Taking certain forms of birth controlAn imbalance of estrogen and progesterone can bring on a yeast infection, and oftentimes progesterone-only contraceptives like the Depo Provera shot, the Mirena IUD, the Skyla IUD, and the Nexplanon implant can cause this problem. If you use one of these methods, a supplemental estrogen vaginal cream or vaginal probiotic can help combat this effect, says Dr. Abdur-Rahman, if you notice the infections popping up frequently.
Eliminating these habits won’t prevent you from ever getting yeast infections ever. But the best way to decrease your chances is to wear loose, light clothes, change quickly after the gym, eat enough probiotics, stay hydrated, and maintain a healthy diet. If the infections keep coming anyway, Dr. Abdur-Rahman recommends trying a vaginal probiotic supplement. And, of course, whenever you have one, see your ob-gyn as soon as possible.