Vaginal infection is common and can cause irritation, itching, and vaginal discharge. To reduce the risk, follow these dos and don’ts of vaginal infection.

Vaginal infections are a common concern among women, impacting their overall well-being. These infections can be caused by various factors, including bacteria, fungi and virus. They can lead to uncomfortable symptoms such as itching, burning, unusual discharge and discomfort during urination or sexual intercourse. Women who are diabetic, pregnant and under a lot of stress, are at increased risk of developing vaginal infections. The good news is that most vaginal infections can be prevented with proper hygiene.

Vaginal yeast infections or vaginal candidiasis can arise from imbalances in the vaginal flora, hormonal changes, sexual activity, or the use of certain medications. It can be prevented by maintaining proper intimate hygiene practices.

Here are 14 dos and don’ts to prevent the risk of vaginal infection, as suggested by obstetrician and gynecologist Dr Nagaveni. R.

What to do if you have a vaginal infection

1. Maintain vaginal hygiene

When it comes to maintaining hygiene, make sure you clean your genital area with mild, unscented soap and warm water daily. Also, always wipe from front to back after using the bathroom to prevent the spread of bacteria from the rectum to the vagina.

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2. Wear breathable clothing

Tight-fitting clothes, especially around the genital area, can trap moisture and cause bacterial growth. To avoid the risk of vaginal infection, wear breathable fabrics like cotton underwear, which allow air circulation and help keep the vaginal area clean and dry.

period panties
Cotton underwear is more comfortable. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Indulge in safe sex

When you get intimate with your partner, always prioritise using protection. Dr Nagaveni says, “Consistently using condoms during sexual activity reduces the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that can lead to vaginal infections.” Moreover, limit the number of sexual partners, as it may increase your risk of contracting STIs.

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4. Change pads and tampons often

If you are on your period, make sure you change your period product on time and clean your vagina from front to back to avoid the growth of bacteria. Improper hygiene is a leading cause of vaginal infections.

5. Maintain a balanced diet

Incorporate probiotic-rich foods like yoghurt into your diet, as they can help maintain the balance of good bacteria in the vagina. Also, keep yourself well hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. It will help flush out toxins and maintain vaginal health.

6. Change wet clothes

Make sure you are wearing dry clothes, including your underwear. Yeast thrives in moist environments and can lead to infection.

7. Check with your doctor

If you experience symptoms of a vaginal infection, such as unusual discharge, itching, or odour, seek medical attention promptly. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent the infection from worsening.

What to avoid if you have a vaginal infection

1. Avoid harsh products

Refrain from using scented feminine hygiene products, including pads, tampons, and sprays, as they can irritate the delicate vaginal tissue.

2. Avoid douching

Douching can disrupt the natural pH balance of the vagina and increase the risk of infection.

3. Limit sugary foods

If you have diabetes, maintaining sugar consumption is essential. Consuming excess sugar can contribute to the growth of harmful bacteria. Avoiding sugary foods like pastries, sodas, and white bread can help mitigate the risk of vaginal infection.

A woman gives in to her sugar craving
Avoid the excess consumption of sugary foods. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

4. Limit irritants

Using products that contain harsh chemicals or fragrances, such as scented soaps, bubble baths, and perfumed lotions, in the vaginal region, can cause irritation and increase the risk of infection.

5. Tight clothing

Steer clear of tight-fitting clothing, particularly synthetic fabrics, as they can trap moisture and create an environment conducive to bacterial growth.

6. Don’t engage in unprotected sex

Refrain from engaging in unprotected sex, as it increases the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that can lead to vaginal infections. Also, avoid having multiple sexual partners.

7. Don’t self-treat

Avoid self-treating the symptoms of vaginal infection by using over-the-counter medications such as antibiotics without consulting a healthcare professional. Improper use of medicine can exacerbate the condition or mask underlying issues, advises Dr Nagaveni.

By keeping these dos and don’ts in mind, you can promote vaginal health and reduce the risk of infection.

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