There are plenty of every day, normal activities and things that can lead to a vaginal yeast infection and that’s NEVER fun! These yeast infection causes can be avoided, in some cases, or at least mitigated in other cases.
This doesn’t mean you’re 100% guaranteed to get a yeast infection every single time you wear tight clothes or take antibiotics, it just means these are certain things that can put you at a higher risk sometimes.
Don’t worry, because for each of the vaginal yeast infection causes on this list, we’re also looking at how to avoid yeast infections with practical, actionable advice.
7. Yeast Infections from Antibiotics
Antibiotics are necessary for treating bacterial infections like strep, but the downside to using them is they tend to destroy beneficial bacteria in the process. Therefore, it’s not unusual for women to develop a yeast infection after finishing antibiotic treatment.
How to avoid getting a yeast infection while using antibiotics: If you are prone to developing yeast infections after using antibiotics, you can ask your doctor to prescribe an anti-fungal treatment like fluconazole to take alongside your antibiotic. If you forget, there are other treatments you can try like boric acid suppositories, probiotics, or OTC yeast infection medication.
6. Yeast Infections During Pregnancy
Hormone fluctuations during pregnancy can make you more susceptible to developing a yeast infection. This is due to these fluctuations changing the pH balance of the vagina, creating a favorable environment for yeast to multiply.
Yeast infections usually won’t cause any harm during pregnancy, but you can pass it to your baby during birth, so you will want to make sure you treat the infection as soon as possible.
How to avoid getting a yeast infection while pregnant: Your body goes through a lot of changes during pregnancy, so it’s going to be nearly impossible to avoid developing a yeast infection at this time.
However, you can make some changes to your lifestyle that will help reduce your risk. We recommend:
- Wearing loose-fitting clothing and underwear made from breathable fabrics like cotton
- Avoiding douching and scented feminine products
- Limiting sugar intake
- Eating unsweetened yogurt that contains probiotics like lactobacillus acidophilus
- Getting plenty of rest so your body is prepared to fight off a potential infection
5. Uncontrolled Diabetes
You likely already know that having uncontrolled diabetes is dangerous for your health, but did you know it can be responsible for your yeast infection too? When diabetes isn’t properly managed, it can cause spikes in blood sugar creating enough energy for yeast cells to take over in your vagina.
How to avoid getting a yeast infection if you have uncontrolled diabetes: The most important thing you can do if you have uncontrolled diabetes is to make an appointment with your doctor. They will help you find the right medication to manage your condition. Next, you will want to ensure you are eating a well-balanced diet of lean protein, fiber, unprocessed carbs, fruits/vegetables, and vegetable-based fats like avocado oil. You will need to eliminate sugary, processed foods from your diet if you want to avoid spikes in your blood sugar occurring in the future.
Once your diabetes is controlled, you should notice an improvement in your vaginal health with less frequent infections.
4. Weakened Immune System
Women with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to developing a yeast infection because it’s difficult for their bodies to fight yeast cells from multiplying down below. You might have a weakened immune system if you have had a serious illness like cancer or take certain medications to manage your health like corticosteroids or TNF inhibitors.
How to avoid getting a yeast infection if your immune system is weakened: If you have a weakened immune system, you will want to ensure you are taking good care of your health so your body is better equipped to deal with an infection. This might mean eating a well-balanced diet, avoiding drugs and alcohol, and getting plenty of sleep at night.
Hormones can impact your vaginal health because they are capable of destroying beneficial bacteria allowing yeast production to grow out of control. Pregnancy, oral contraceptives, and even your time of the month can be responsible for your yeast infection because they all influence hormone levels.
How to avoid getting a yeast infection: While you can’t avoid changes in your hormone levels completely, you can reduce your risk of developing a yeast infection by:
- Eating probiotic foods like yogurt or kimchi
- Wearing cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothing
- Avoiding scented feminine products and douching
- Eating a diet that is low in sugar
2. Yeast Infections from Clothing
It might surprise you but your clothing choices can impact the likelihood of a yeast infection developing. Tight clothing can inhibit ventilation, trapping in heat and moisture, creating the perfect environment for yeast to thrive. Similarly, wet clothing can have the same impact, so it’s important to change into dry clothing as soon as possible.
How to avoid getting a yeast infection from clothing: Apart from wearing dry clothing, you will want to look for breathable fabrics like cotton or linen. These types of fabric allow air to flow easily, keeping you cool and dry. Finally, clothing should be loose-fitting to ensure airflow isn’t compromised.
1. Douching Can Cause Infections, Too
Douches have been a popular way to “clean” the vagina for years but this process is completely unnecessary. In fact, they often cause more damage than they’re worth by introducing harmful bacteria to the vagina or by altering its delicate pH balance. Whether you use a product from the feminine aisle or water, you will be at risk for developing an uncomfortable yeast infection (or worse!).
How to avoid getting a yeast infection from douching: The best way to avoid developing a yeast infection is to stop douching completely. As vaginas are self-cleaning organs, they don’t require outside help from vaginal douches. If you notice a funky smell or unusual discharge down below, you might have an infection and you’ll need to be examined by your doctor to confirm a diagnosis. Instead of using vaginal douches, it’s recommended to clean the outside of your vagina using water or gentle soap.