When it comes to dealing with intimate health issues like yeast infections, young women are relying on advice that’s plain wrong – and even harmful.
More than half - 53% - of young women say they don’t know how to deal with a yeast infection, and two out of three women (66%) don’t know it can be cured with an over-the-counter treatment. With all the information out there, finding the right answers can be confusing and overwhelming.
Here are some yeast infection myths and misconceptions regarding treatment and prevention.
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.
External Vaginal Itch Creams
A common misconception is that vaginal itch creams can treat yeast infections. Many women who use these products intending to treat a yeast infection soon discover the products’ shortcomings. While they may temporarily relieve the symptoms of your infection, they will not cure it.
Now, let’s clear up some misconceptions about what causes yeast infections.
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.
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 it is a yeast infection myth that regularly using a laptop would 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. Here are a few reasons why you may get 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 weakened immune system - Yeast naturally exists in the vagina and a healthy immune system works to keep this yeast balanced. If you have a weakened immune system, you may be susceptible to yeast infections along with other infections.
- Certain Cancer Treatments - Yeast infections can be a common side effect of some cancer treatments.
Here are some simple things that have been associated with helping prevent yeast infections:
- 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
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 healthcare professional before you decide on a treatment. That way, he or she can guide you regarding your vaginal health, give you a proper diagnosis, and help you choose the most appropriate treatment. If you’re unsure of what to ask or are uncomfortable speaking with your doctor regarding yeast infection concerns, download our Doctor Discussion Guide to help start the conversation.