How to Prevent Vaginal Yeast Infections

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Three out of four women will experience at least one yeast infection during her life. Many will also experience recurrent infections.

Practicing some of these prevention techniques may help reduce your risk.

How to Reduce Your Risk

There are a number of things you can do to reduce your risk of getting a vaginal yeast infection.

  • For one, you should always wear cotton underwear in order to allow your nether regions to breathe. Nylon and Lycra may trap air and create a breeding ground for yeast. Also, never wear pantyhose without wearing cotton underwear underneath.
  • Another step you can take is to avoid using petroleum-based lubricants for vaginal lubrication during sexual intercourse. Always use water-based lubricants when vaginal dryness is an issue, as other types have been shown to increase the likelihood of a yeast infection.
  • Practice good personal hygiene. Always wiping from front to back after a bowel movement in order to prevent the yeast that normally inhabits the intestinal tract from being transferred to the vaginal area.
  • Eating one cup of yogurt a day helps some women prevent the yeast infections that often follow antibiotic treatment; however, it must be noted that eating yogurt will not cure a yeast infection.
  • Don't use perfumed bath products or powders in the vaginal area, as these can cause irritations that can lead to infection.
  • Don't use douches. Douching washes away the natural protective mucus of the vagina, leaving the vagina more susceptible to yeast and other vaginal infections.

If You Already Have a Yeast Infection

  • Before you get a yeast infection, decide if you prefer prescription or over-the counter (OTC) treatment.
  • At the first sign of a yeast infection, call your physician for prescribed medication or go to your pharmacy to buy one of the FDA-approved products that are available OTC.
  • Never self-treat a yeast infection unless you have previously been diagnosed for a yeast infection by a healthcare professional.
  • Finally, always call a healthcare professional for diagnosis if you are not sure a subsequent infection is yeast-related. Other vaginal infections or STDs may have similar symptoms.
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