Yeast infections, though not the most serious of ailments, can bring down the best of us. The itching and burning that accompany these infections make it difficult for any woman to maintain some semblance of composure and sanity. Unfortunately, the odds are not on the side of those with vaginas, as approximately 75% of women will experience at least one yeast infection during their lifetime, with some women experiencing multiple in one year.
Why do yeast infections happen?
Your vagina’s ecosystem is composed of a very delicate balance of a small amount of yeast cells and a larger amount of “good” bacteria, usually the strain Lactobacillus acidophilus, which keep the yeast cells in check, all while maintaining its ideal acidic pH. Yeast infections can occur when that balance is thrown off and there is an overgrowth of yeast cells. Yeast also thrive on sugar and warm, moist environments. Furthermore, irritation to the vaginal tissue can essentially cause micro-tears, increasing vulnerability to infection.
There are a few usual suspects when it comes to potential causes of yeast infection, such as antibiotics, douching, and a weak immune system, but the following may be a bit more surprising to learn about.
- Excessive alcohol consumption: In addition to having the ability to kill off the good bacteria in your body, alcohol contains large amounts of sugar and yeast, both prime contributors to yeast infections. Just another good reason to slow down the Chardonnay consumption on a big night out.
- Scented tampons: Products meant to “deodorize” your lady parts, along with seemingly harmless toiletries and household items (bubble bath, scented soaps, scented laundry detergent), can actually do a lot more harm than good. These items are loaded with chemicals that can irritate your vagina and upset its pH balance. If you are prone to infections, avoid using anything with added fragrances near your vagina and consider switching to a menstrual cup that is made from medical grade silicone and won’t upset that harmonious balance that your vagina works so hard to preserve.
- Daily use of panty liners: As mentioned earlier, yeast love moist, warm environments, and since panty liners block airflow to the vagina, the area becomes the perfect incubator for yeast growth. Keep panty liner use to a minimum and wear breathable cotton underwear to keep yeast at bay.
- Spermicidal condoms: Kudos for using protection, but the spermicide on some condoms unfortunately contains yet another potential irritant for your vagina. Rather stick to regular condoms with a latex compatible lubricant to lessen the risk of tearing.
- Low estrogen levels: Estrogen feeds the aforementioned good bacteria, keeping it strong to fight off bad bacteria and the growth of too much yeast. However, estrogen levels dip just before your period and during menopause, so the good bacteria are sometimes unable to control yeast cells. Women often find themselves with yeast infections just before their periods for this very reason.
It’s important to be mindful of these hidden causes of yeast infections, especially if you are experiencing recurrent infections, so you can do your best to prevent these uncomfortable episodes. Small changes to your daily routine can do big things for your vaginal health.
Please note that advice offered by Intimina may not be relevant to your individual case. For specific concerns regarding your health, always consult your physician or other licensed medical practitioners.