Most of us consider bacteria to be a dirty word. It makes us think of illness, infections, and germs. However, the truth is that some bacteria is “good” for us, and we need it in order to function healthfully.
Such is the case with the flora, (also known as yeast or bacteria) that lives inside of the vagina. The good bacteria in the vagina helps to promote a healthy ph balance and it keeps the area clean and fresh. However, there are many ways that the bacteria in the vagina can become imbalanced, and when this happens, a yeast infection can occur.
A yeast infection occurs when there is an overgrowth of yeast in the vagina. We all have yeast inside and outside our bodies (even on our skin), but too much yeast can lead to an infection. An increase of yeast can occur for many reasons, and everything from pregnancy to birth control pills can increase your risk of infection.
Perhaps one of the most common causes of yeast infection is antibiotic medication. Although antibiotics are invaluable tool when it comes to treating infection and safeguarding our immune system, they have the potential to kill the good bacteria in our bodies that we need to be healthy along with the bad bacteria that makes us sick. This is why yeast infections can occur. The antibiotics kill off the good bacteria and that leads to an overgrowth of yeast, which in turn leads to the uncomfortable itching and burning that we associate with yeast infection.
Of course, avoiding antibiotics isn’t the best answer, and these medications are often a must when it comes to stopping everything from minor infections to life-threatening illness. Thankfully, there are several things you can do to help cut down on risk of yeast infection while taking this medication, such as:
- Be proactive. If you are prone to yeast infections or have experienced yeast infections in the past as a result of antibiotics, talk to your doctor about ways you can decrease your risk. Some doctors suggest taking proactive measures such as by taking an over-the-counter yeast infection remedy before the symptoms even arise, while others might give you a prescription for prescription yeast infection medication (also known as Diflucan or fluconazole) to have at the ready if you need it.
- Maintain a healthy diet. Add a cup of yogurt to your diet every day to help promote the growth of good bacteria. Not all yogurt is created equal, so look for ones that have probiotics (code for good bacteria), and look for terms like “lactobacillus” or “acidophilus” on the label. You can also take a garlic supplement or add fresh garlic to your diet, as it’s been shown to have an anti-fungal effect and can help decrease yeast infections.
- Keep things as dry and comfortable as possible. Nix any douches or perfumed body washes. You don’t need to wash with harsh soaps or irritants. A little warm water is all you need to keep your labia clean, and you never need to clean inside your vagina. Avoid tight panties, thongs, and even pantyhose if possible. Also, make sure that you change out of sweaty gym clothes right away or take off your wet swimsuit as soon as possible when you get out of the pool. Keep things dry, cool, and comfortable, and you can greatly reduce your risk of yeast infection.