How Can I Prevent Vaginal Infections?
There are certain things that you can do to decrease the chance of getting vaginal infections. If you suffer from yeast infections, it usually is helpful to avoid garments that hold in heat and moisture. The wearing of nylon panties, pantyhose without a cotton panel, and tight jeans can lead to yeast infections. Good hygiene also is important. In addition, doctors have found that if a woman eats yogurt that contains active cultures (read the label) she may get fewer infections.
Because they can cause vaginal irritation, most doctors do not recommend vaginal sprays or heavily perfumed soaps for cleansing this area. Likewise, douching may cause irritation or, more importantly, may hide a vaginal infection. Douching also removes the healthy bacteria that help keep the vagina clean. Removing these bacteria can result in, or worsen, vaginitis.
Safe sexual practices can help prevent the passing of diseases between partners. The use of condoms is particularly important.
If you are approaching menopause, have had your ovaries removed or have low levels of estrogen for any reason, discuss with your doctor the use of estrogen in the form of pills, creams, or vaginal rings to keep the vagina lubricated and healthy.
Good health habits are important. Have a complete gynecologic exam, including a Pap smear every year unless otherwise directed by your doctor. If you have multiple sexual partners, you should request screening for sexually transmitted diseases.
When Should I Call my Doctor About a Vaginal Infection?
You should call your doctor any time if:
- Your vaginal discharge changes color, becomes heavier or smells different.
- You notice itching, burning, swelling or soreness around the vagina.