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The internet is filled with myths about yeast infections Take a look at some of the worst offenders.
Yeast infections are a common condition caused by an overgrowth of naturally occurring yeast that lives in the vagina. Your doctor may call this infection "monilia" or "candidiasis," but many women know it as just uncomfortable. If you look online, you may find a lot of confusing information about how to remedy this easily-treatable condition.
Here are some myths and misconceptions about how to treat a yeast infection.
The belief that yogurt can be used to treat and cure a yeast infection has been around for quite some time. Some women even claim that it works for them. These claims have inspired several scientific studies, but it has not yet been proven that applying yogurt on or in your vagina will cure a yeast infection.
In some circles, garlic is revered for its detoxifying qualities. For those that subscribe to garlic’s medicinal use, they believe it can be used to treat yeast infections by inserting it into the vagina. In reality, inserting any foreign object in the vagina may cause further complications or even worsen an infection. There is no scientific proof that garlic can cure a yeast infection, so don’t put yourself at risk.
- Perfumed feminine products
A common misconception is that feminine hygiene sprays and powders can treat yeast infections. Many women who use these products intending to treat a yeast infection soon discover the product’s shortcomings. While they may temporarily treat the symptoms of your infection, they will not cure it.
Douching is not approved by the medical community and not a recommended practice – period. Though many women believe it helps to clean out or freshen the vagina, the process of douching does more harm than good. If you have a yeast infection, douching can worsen your condition.
Now, let’s clear up some misconceptions about what causes yeast infections.
- Having Sex — Vaginal yeast infections are not usually spread by having sex. However, if you have a yeast infection, you should avoid sexual activity until the infection is gone. Sexual intercourse can be painful and increase vaginal burning and inflammation.
- Going Swimming — Damp or tight-fitting clothing can create an ideal environment for yeast to overgrow. You won’t get a yeast infection just because you went swimming and it’s not contagious, so you won’t catch it from being in the pool with someone who does. Just make sure you change into clean, dry underwear and clothing when you’re through swimming, working out or doing any strenuous activity.
- Using a Laptop — The heat generated from some laptops can cause you to perspire while it rests on your lap and damp areas are ideal environments for the overgrowth of yeast. But regularly using a laptop shouldn’t put you at increased risk for developing a yeast infection – just be sure to keep your vaginal area dry.
What actually causes yeast infections?
A yeast infection (candidiasis) is caused by an overgrowth of yeast that normally lives in the vagina. Below are a few reasons why you may have a yeast infection.
- Antibiotics — Antibiotics and other drugs can trigger a yeast infection by suppressing some of the "good" bacteria that helps keep the yeast fungus under control. Learn more here, and do not stop taking antibiotics without first asking your doctor.
- Hormones — Pregnancy, menstruation and estrogen fluctuations can trigger a yeast infection. If you're pregnant or think you're pregnant, make sure to speak with your doctor before using any products to treat your symptoms.
- Diabetes — If your diabetes is not well controlled, you have a greater chance of getting yeast infections. Find out how high blood sugar can lead to a candida infection.
- A compromised immune system - Yeast naturally exists in the vagina and a healthy immune system works to keep this yeast balanced. If you have a compromised immune system, you may be susceptible to yeast infections along with other infections.
- Injury to the inner vagina (such as damage to cells from chemotherapy) – Yeast infections can be a common side effect of cancer treatment because of some of the drugs, steroids or strong antibiotics prescribed to treat bacterial infections. Learn more here.
Here are some simple things that have been associated with helping prevent yeast infections:
- Avoid douches
- Avoid scented hygiene products like bubble bath, sprays, pads, and tampons
- Change tampons and pads often during your period
- Avoid tight underwear or clothes made of synthetic fibers
- Wear cotton underwear and pantyhose with a cotton crotch
- Change out of wet swimsuits and exercise clothes as soon as you can
- Avoid hot tubs and very hot baths
If this is your first yeast infection or you have special circumstances like diabetes, pregnancy, or recurrent infections, it's important for you to talk to your doctor before you decide on a treatment. That way, he or she can give you a proper diagnosis and help you choose the most appropriate treatment. If you're not sure what to ask, we've provided you with some helpful talking points to bring to your doctor so you can make sure you are getting the treatment that is best for you.