My First Yeast Infection—It Was No Big Deal!

OMG, there it was—the vaginal itching…thick, white, lumpy discharge (like cottage cheese!)…soreness…irritation and burning. I was scared and afraid I may have had an STD. But after some initial research and a talk with my gyno, I found out I had the symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection. It was my first yeast infection, and what I learned was that the symptoms of STDs and vaginal yeast infections are similar, but there are some differences to look out for, and that vaginal yeast infections are common, they’re treatable, they’re really no big deal. What a relief!

What is a vaginal yeast infection and what causes it?

A vaginal yeast infection is a common condition inside the vagina caused by an ovegrowth of yeast (Candida) that normally live in the vagina. Your healthcare professional may call this infection “candidiasis”. Some women may have burning, itching, or irritation on the skin outside the vagina (vulva) at the same time that they have a vaginal yeast infection

So, if yeast infections are triggered by overgrowth of yeast, what causes it? Basically it happens because either there’s too much food for the yeast (like hormones) or the good bacteria keeping the yeast levels in check has been wiped out. Here are some possible yeast infection causes:

Too much food for yeast to grow…

  • Menstruation: Changes in hormone levels during a normal menstrual cycle can result in occasional or recurrent yeast infections.
  • Increased Estrogen Levels: Women who are taking birth control pills that have a high-dose of estrogen as well as those on estrogen hormone therapy are more susceptible to developing a yeast infection.
  • Pregnancy: Increased levels of estrogen during pregnancy make women more susceptible to yeast infections.
  • Diabetes: Whether controlled or uncontrolled, diabetes puts women at higher risk for developing a yeast infection because of the extra glucose that’s not being properly metabolized.

Not enough bacteria to keep yeast in check…

  • Antibiotics: Broad-spectrum antibiotics kill healthy lactobacillus bacteria (“good bacteria”) in the vagina, which enables yeast to overgrow.
  • Cancer Treatments: Undergoing chemotherapy treatments creates a greater risk for developing a yeast infection.
  • Impaired Immune System: Women with weakened immunity from corticosteroid therapy or HIV infections are at greater risk for developing a yeast infection.

Be sure it’s a vaginal yeast infection

It’s really important to make sure it’s a vaginal yeast infection—and not something else—based on the symptoms I talked about above. If you have other symptoms, it could be something else. Vaginal yeast infections do NOT cause foul-smelling vaginal discharge, fever, chills, lower abdominal, back or shoulder pain, or a missed period. These could be signs of bacterial vaginosis (BV), a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or a tubal pregnancy. If you have these symptoms, be sure to call your doctor right away.

Another way to help determine whether or not it’s a yeast infection, is a simple test you can use at home. The Vaginal Health Test from MONISTAT® is the same test used in doctor’s offices, and is super easy to use.

Relieve symptoms faster

There’s no reason why a yeast infection should hold you back from your routine! Once you know what it is, the next step is finding out how to treat a yeast infection. After your doctor confirms that it’s a yeast infection, reach for MONISTAT®. MONISTAT® is the #1 OTC (over-the-counter) yeast infection brand and relieves yeast infection symptoms 4x faster than the leading prescription pill.

If this is your first yeast infection, it’s important to talk with your healthcare professional first to confirm the diagnosis. Not sure what to ask? There are some questions about your first yeast infection to discuss with your doctor below.

Reach for MONISTAT®

MONISTAT® comes in 3 doses: highest dose MONISTAT® 1, regular strength MONISTAT® 3, and low dose MONISTAT® 7. Regardless of which product you choose, you should begin to experience some symptom relief after 3 days and complete relief in 7 days.

Doctor Discussion Guide – First Time(1.12 MB)

How Long Does a Yeast Infection Last? Plus, Your Options for Treatment

If your symptoms are mild, you may be able to clear your yeast infection with home remedies. However, you should keep in mind that many of these treatment options aren’t supported by reputable studies. Doctors rarely recommended them over established OTC and prescription treatments.

Probiotics

The good bacteria, or probiotics, found in yogurt may help restore the bacterial balance in your vagina. Although you can eat yogurt for the benefit, some women find faster relief by applying it directly to the vagina.

For either method, look for a Greek-style yogurt that has no added sugar.

To apply the yogurt to your vagina:

  1. When you’re ready, rest on a towel on your bed or a flat surface.
  2. Apply a spoonful of yogurt to your hands or a washcloth.
  3. With one hand, gently pull back the folds of your vagina. With the other hand, pat the yogurt onto your vulva.
  4. You can also insert some into your vagina.
  5. You can leave the yogurt, or wait 10 to 15 minutes, and gently remove it with a moist washcloth.
  6. Repeat this technique two times a day to relieve symptoms.
  7. Be sure to wash your hands well before and after application.

If you aren’t interested in a topical application, you can try eating the yogurt twice a day. If you can, continue to eat yogurt daily after the infection clears. This can help maintain regular bacterial balance.

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is an essential oil that can be used to kill viruses, bacteria, and fungi. A 2015 study found that the oil may be an effective treatment for a yeast infection, too.

Shop for tea tree oil.

To insert the oil into your vagina:

  1. Mix the tea tree oil with a carrier oil, like coconut. A 95-to-5 percent ratio is suggested.
  2. Fill a suppository applicator with the mixture.
  3. Lie on your back with your legs apart.
  4. Use one hand to gently pull back the folds of your vagina.
  5. Use the other hand to slide the applicator into your vagina. Push to inject the mixture.
  6. Remove the applicator, and wash your hands.

You should only use this treatment three to four times. If it isn’t effective at treating the infection after four applications, see your doctor.

Boric acid

Boric acid is a powerful antiseptic. In some small studies, a boric acid solution successfully eliminated strains of yeast that cause yeast infections.

To insert the acid into your vagina:

  1. Mix water with the acid at a ratio of 2-to-1. Boric acid can irritate the skin, so it’s important to have more water than acid in the mixture.
  2. Fill a suppository applicator with the acid mixture.
  3. Lie on your back on your bed. Bend your legs at your knees, feet on the ground.
  4. With one hand, hold back the folds of your vagina.
  5. With the other, insert the applicator. Push to insert the mixture.
  6. Remove the applicator and wash your hands.

You can use this treatment two times per day for up to two weeks. If the mixture is too irritating, stop using it and see your doctor.

You shouldn’t use this remedy if you’re pregnant.

But it’s also why you might want to hold off on having sex for a bit—it could take longer than a few days to actually clear the infection.

Okay, so hypothetically, what could happen if you have sex before your yeast infection is totally gone? As it turns out, a few things:

Sex might just further irritate your vagina.

Your vagina can get inflamed and irritated when you have a yeast infection, hence all that itching and discomfort. Any sort of sexual play that involves inserting something into your vagina might exacerbate these symptoms.

Penetrative acts tend to involve a lot of friction, which can create micro-abrasions in your vagina if it’s already irritated, Jacques Moritz, an ob-gyn at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian Hospital, tells SELF. Those tiny tears can cause your poor vagina to feel even more inflamed. Plus, micro-tears in your vagina can make you more susceptible to sexually transmitted infections because they create openings for illness-causing pathogens to enter, Dr. Moritz says.

Sex could mess with your treatment—and vice versa.

Even if penetrative sex doesn’t make your yeast infection feel worse, it could disrupt the healing process depending on your treatment method. Penetrative sex can push creams and suppositories right out of your vagina, so you may not be exposed to the full dose, according to Dr. Moritz.

Also worth noting: Vaginally administered yeast infection suppositories, ointments, and creams can actually damage some condoms and diaphragms since they contain oil, which erodes latex, according to the Mayo Clinic.

If you’re using an oral antifungal, though, that shouldn’t be an issue, Dr. Minkin says. While vaginal creams often come with warnings to refrain from sex, that’s not the case for oral yeast infection medications. Still, you may want to avoid having sex until your yeast infection clears for some of the other reasons described here.

One last thing: If you’re putting off taking your yeast infection medication until after you have sex, you’re obviously going to prolong your healing period. I totally understand not wanting to deal with suppositories and the like in the bedroom, but the longer you wait to start treatment, the longer your yeast infection will stick around.

Also, you might pass it to your partner.

If you have unprotected oral or penetrative intercourse while you have a yeast infection, you could potentially pass the infection on to your partner, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Office on Women’s Health. Yeast is essentially an equal-opportunity organism. An overgrowth-induced infection can crop up in vaginas, penises, and even the mouth, throat, or esophagus. The good news is that this rarely happens due to sex, Lauren Streicher, M.D., an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, tells SELF.

Penile yeast infections are characterized by abnormally moist skin, shiny white spots, redness, itching, or burning, according to the Mayo Clinic. Per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Office on Women’s Health, about 15% of men get an itchy rash on their penis after unprotected sex with a woman who has a vaginal yeast infection, so it’s worth being aware of this risk.

Yeast infections in your mouth or throat can cause symptoms like redness, soreness, pain while eating and swallowing, loss of taste, cracks or redness at the corners of your mouth, and a “cottony” feeling in your mouth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They can also lead to white patches on your tongue, inner cheeks, throat, and the roof of your mouth. The CDC notes that these infections are “uncommon in healthy adults” and most likely to affect babies or someone with a compromised immune system.

Explore Methods

I sat on the toilet, ready to insert a clove of garlic into my vagina.

A month earlier, the symptoms of a yeast infection had seemingly gone away after a 1-day suppository treatment. When I felt the symptoms coming on again, I texted a friend who has a degree in public health.

“Do I need to see a doctor since I just had a yeast infection?”

My friend said I should try treating it with over-the-counter meds first. Or, I could try a less traditional approach, more associated with anti-vampires than anti-fungus: Inserting a clove of garlic into the vagina to cure a yeast infection. If it worked, I would save about $17 by not needing the meds.

I had some garlic in my kitchen, so I decided to give it a go. An article said to insert the clove at night and to anchor it to the outer world with a piece of floss. That night, my dutiful boyfriend Nick used a dentist’s pick to puncture the clove and secure the floss. In it went, and off we dozed.

I woke excitedly, walked to the bathroom and yanked the floss. The floss came out; the clove didn’t. Luckily, I was skilled at retrieving objects from my vagina because of my recent adoption of a menstrual cup. The clove came out, and I thought to myself, “Do I feel better?”

“I think it worked!” I texted my friend, foolishly.

A few hours later, the fire down under raged.

And so began a series of appointments, prescriptions, and Google searches that would persist November through January.

If you think you have a yeast infection…

Yeast infections are common: According to the CDC, nearly 75% of adult women will have at least one in their lifetime. Dr. Anne Burke, Associate Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics at the Johns Hopkins University, has this advice for what to do if you think you have one:

  • If it’s your first time, see a health care provider to be evaluated and make sure it’s yeast.

  • If you’re a yeast veteran, get in touch with your provider and find out if you can just get over-the-counter medication or if your provider thinks you need an exam. BTW, if you’re having frequent infections (3 times a year or more), you should definitely go see your provider and find out what’s up.

  • Note: It’s your choice which suppository length you prefer, from 1-day to 7-day treatment. The shorter courses have a higher concentration of the medication in them. (Note that the longer treatment may work better for more severe infections—but it’s important to do the full course of treatment, even after you start to feel better.)

  • If you’re not feeling better in a few days, see your provider.

After the garlic treatment didn’t work, I began my treatment process:

  1. My primary care doc said it was likely a yeast infection, but she couldn’t do any tests to verify since I was menstruating. She gave me two doses of oral fluconazole. I took one right away, then the other 3 days later. I felt better while the medicine was in my system, but back to discomfort on day 7.

  2. I went to Planned Parenthood when I realized I wasn’t getting better and New Year’s holidays were coming up. (They were the only ones who could see me on a day’s notice—bless their hearts.) The nurse practitioner (NP) tested my discharge, found it was indeed a yeast infection, and prescribed me a 3-day suppository. Again, it felt better during treatment, but full-force pain returned on day 4.

  3. The NP then prescribed me double-duty: two doses of oral fluconazole + 6-day suppository. I felt better during treatment, and more relieved afterward than ever before.

Along with these treatments, I also tried the following (based on advice from friends, family, and acquaintances—not health care professionals):

a. Daily women’s probiotic

b. Daily water with grapefruit seed extract (Makes water taste very peculiar)

c. Wearing loose clothing (Not easy in the dead of Ohio winter)

d. Wearing only cotton underwear (Breathable, not beautiful)

e. Garlic (as described above)

What you should know about treatment and prevention

So what works best? Dr. Burke says that generally women prefer oral fluconazole treatment (less mess), but if you look at the numbers, stronger creams or suppositories work better for some yeast species. Her main advice for preventing yeast infections is to avoid douching or any other activity that affects your vagina’s pH balance.

According to Dr. Burke’s sources, no evidence points to the garlic treatment being effective. Putting yogurt in the vagina is another common home remedy about which there’s some limited, inconclusive evidence. In general, unscented products and non-soap cleansers are healthiest for your vulva, but they don’t specifically affect yeast.

Why might a yeast infection last longer than usual?

When I look back and try to figure out what happened in my situation, I can think of a few factors that may have contributed: It was the beginning of winter in Ohio, and I had a habit of wearing tights + leggings every day. My house is nearly 100 years old and not great at preserving heat, so sometimes, admittedly, I would go a few days without showering.

I realize I may not have gotten rid of the infection completely after the first occurrence in November—looking back I still had a little discomfort during sex, but it wasn’t bad enough to worry me. The infection may have lingered and flared up when trapped in my tights.

Eventually, sitting at a desk for an 8-hour workday was excruciating—the hot pain made me flinch and re-position every five minutes. When I went out with friends, I had to leave early so I could get home and go to sleep—the only time I wasn’t in pain.

It seemed the pain increased with stress, and I was constantly stressed because of the pain. The cycle continued.

If your infection lasts longer than usual, Dr. Burke suggests several potential reasons:

  • The infection may be incompletely treated, or not treated long enough.

  • If you don’t feel better after your first treatment, you may need a longer course or you may have a less common species of yeast that doesn’t respond to standard medication.

  • Or, you may not have a yeast infection—it could be bacterial vaginosis (BV) or a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Finally, relief

After those three months, I woke up one day and realized I hadn’t been in pain in a few days. As painfully as it came in, the infection silently crept out. Now, as with any other time I’ve been sick, I really appreciate having a healthy vagina and follow the suggestions that my fantastic providers gave me.

My advice to anyone experiencing a long-term yeast infection is to relax and find your personal care plan. Work with providers to come up with the combination of medicine, nutrition, supplements, and stress relief that’s right for you.

Kelsey Misbrener is the Associate Editor for Solar Power World. She’s a feminist and animal lover who lives in Northeast Ohio with her partner, two rabbits and a black cat named Wanda. She spends her free time volunteering for NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio and advocating for women’s rights.

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How long does a yeast infection take to go away?

Many women choose to use home remedies to treat mild to moderate yeast infections.

Science has not backed all home remedies, but recent studies have medically tested the following methods:

Tea tree oil

Share on PinterestTea tree oil may be an effective home remedy.

Tea tree oil is another promising home remedy for yeast infections. A 2015 study found that tea tree oil is effective in fighting off all types of Candida fungus.

To use tea tree oil for a yeast infection, pour a few drops across the top and sides of a tampon and insert the tampon into the vagina. Leave in place for a few hours and then remove.

While tea tree oil may be effective, it may not be as fast-acting as over-the-counter options.

Tea tree oil is available for purchase online.

Yogurt

The topical or internal application of yogurt is an effective home treatment for yeast infections.

Natural yogurt contains healthful bacteria called Lactobacillus. These bacteria produce hydrogen peroxide that kills the excess Candida.

A 2015 study found that yogurt might be more effective than clotrimazole (Canesten), an antifungal cream.

Using a yogurt without any added sugar is essential. Sugar can cause Candida to multiply more, making the infection worse.

Plain, natural yogurt can be smoothed onto the surface of the vagina or applied internally.

Some women find inserting an unused tampon applicator filled with yogurt works well. Freezing it first may bring additional cooling relief. Others simply use their fingers to apply the yogurt.

While yogurt may be effective, it may not be as fast acting as antifungal treatments.

Boric acid

Boric acid is another home remedy for yeast infections that some research suggests is effective.

A 2011 research review found boric acid to be a safe alternative remedy for yeast infections.

Boric acid suppositories are available for purchase in pharmacies and online. People can also make their own by putting no more than 600 milligrams of boric acid into a clean gel capsule.

Boric acid suppositories can sometimes cause side effects, including vaginal burning and discharge.

This treatment can be repeated once a day until the infection clears. It is not suitable for women who are pregnant.

Most women will have a yeast infection at some point: 75 percent of women get at least one during their lifetime. While there are plenty of over-the-counter treatments, there are times when it’s wise to see a doctor.

It’s perfectly normal to have yeast present in the vagina. It’s present about 20 percent of the time, and it’s usually nothing to worry about, says Dr. Amanda Selk, a gynecologist at Women’s College Hospital. It’s only when it becomes overgrown and causes symptoms that it’s called a yeast infection. Symptoms can include itching, burning, painful intercourse, painful urination and a thick white clumpy discharge.

But it’s important to note that just because you have one or more of those symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have a yeast infection. Studies have shown that women frequently misdiagnose themselves.

“When people have never had a yeast infection before, they only diagnose themselves right about 11 percent of the time, and when they’ve had one before they diagnose themselves right only about 35 percent of the time,” says Dr. Selk. “Even if a doctor looks at it and thinks it’s yeast without actually doing a swab or a slide and looking under a microscope, it’s not really a very accurate diagnosis.”

If you have symptoms, and you’ve never had a yeast infection before, Dr. Selk recommends seeing a doctor, who can do either a slide or a swab to get a solid diagnosis. She also recommends seeing a doctor if you’ve had a yeast infection before and you think it’s the same thing, but your symptoms do not get better with over-the-counter treatment.

“If you’re not getting better, make sure there’s not something else going on,” Dr. Selk says. Your symptoms may be caused by another condition. “They can be bladder infections, they can be gonorrhea or Chlamydia, they can be just normal discharge, they can be all kinds of things.” In some cases, it turns out to be a skin issue such as eczema or contact dermatitis.

“Lots of people think they have a yeast infection and they don’t have one,” Dr. Selk says. “It’s really important to know, as opposed to just treating yourself. If you do treat yourself and you don’t get better, please go and get seen.”

Yeast infections are not sexually transmitted. Also, some women may be more susceptible to yeast infections. Women who have diabetes, who are pregnant, or who are taking steroids or antibiotics are more likely to get yeast infections. These women, and women who get more than four yeast infections per year, may be harder to treat and should speak to their doctor.

“When those people get yeast infections, they are more complicated and sometimes they’ll need longer courses of treatment,” Dr. Selk says.

Over-the-counter treatments for yeast infections are safe to use as directed, and come in antifungal single- or multi-day creams and tablets and one single-dose oral pill. The oral pill should not be used by pregnant women, nor should it be used more frequently than directed.

There isn’t any convincing evidence showing that alternative treatments such as garlic, tea tree oil, lactobacillus, probiotics or dietary changes are effective remedies for yeast infections.

“There aren’t good studies so we just don’t know,” Dr. Selk says of alternative treatments, adding that women can spend a lot of money on them. “If you’re going to spend money on stuff, then there’s stuff we know works.”

If proven yeast infection treatments aren’t working, see your doctor for a definite diagnosis.

This information is provided by Women’s College Hospital and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: Feb. 28, 2013

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Vaginal Yeast Infection Treatments

What Is the Treatment for Vaginal Yeast Infection?

  • Oral agents: Fluconazole (Diflucan), ketoconazole (Nizoral), itraconazole (Sporanox)
  • Vaginal agents: Butoconazole (Femstat), clotrimazole (Mycelex, Gyne-Lotrimin, FemCare), miconazole (Monistat-7, Femizol-M), nystatin (Mycostatin), terconazole (Terazol), tioconazole (Vagistat-1)
  • How antifungal drugs work: Antifungal drugs inhibit the ability of fungus to multiply and form new cell membranes.
  • Who should not use these medications: Individuals with allergy to any ingredients contained within these products should not take them.
  • Use: The choice of oral or vaginal dosage forms depends on the severity of the yeast infection, whether infection is recurrent, and the individual’s personal history (for example, immune system status, pregnancy, diabetes). Some drug regimens may include a combination treatment of an oral agent followed by vaginal application of a cream or vaginal suppository. Severe or recurrent infections may require maintenance treatment regimen prescribed by a doctor. Maintenance treatments are taken periodically (for example, once per week).
    • Oral agents: These prescription drugs are available as tablets or capsules. Various treatment regimens are used. Patients with mild infections may require only a single dose or daily doses for a short duration.
    • Vaginal agents: Some vaginal preparations are available without a prescription. Vaginal dosage forms include vaginal suppositories, creams, or tablets that come with special applicators for proper administration.
    • Drug or food interactions: Clinically important drug interactions may occur with orally administered ketoconazole, fluconazole, or itraconazole. Patients should check with their doctor or pharmacist if they are currently taking other medications. Antacids or other drugs that decrease stomach acidity (for example, Pepcid, Tagamet, Zantac) may decrease the effectiveness of oral antifungal drugs. Common side effects with oral treatment include dizziness, fever, mild itching, nausea, bad taste, and diarrhea.
    • Side effects: The most common side effect experienced with vaginally applied treatments is vaginal burning and itching. Less common side effects of vaginally applied treatments include contact dermatitis, irritation, inflammation, and pain with urination or intercourse. Creams and suppositories may contain oil which may compromise the effect of condoms by weakening the latex.

Exercise and Vaginal Discomfort: What’s Really Going On

Exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight, boosts your mood, and increases your energy. It also promotes sleep and reduces your risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and some types of cancer. Still, many women face a negative side effect of exercise called vaginal discomfort, also known as sports vagina. Keep reading to learn more about this rarely discussed condition and what you can do about it.

What is sports vagina?

Sports vagina isn’t an official medical condition. It’s a term for vaginal discomfort that occurs with exercise. Your vulval and vaginal areas produce sweat, which may lead to vaginal discomfort when you hit the gym, especially if you don’t wear proper clothing.

Sports vagina symptoms may be mild or severe, depending on the type of exercise, the intensity of exercise, and how often you work out. Symptoms may include:

  • vaginal itching
  • vaginal redness
  • vaginal irritation
  • vaginal chafing
  • strong vaginal odor

Infections caused by sports vagina

Sports vagina may cause a yeast infection, which is an overgrowth of the Candida fungus. Yeast thrives in warm, moist environments such as a sweaty vagina. Symptoms of a yeast infection may include:

  • a thick, white discharge that resembles cottage cheese
  • vaginal itching, which may be intense
  • vaginal burning, especially when in contact with urine
  • painful sex
  • vaginal redness

Most yeast infections won’t go away on their own. Treatment options include over-the-counter antifungal suppositories and creams, prescription vaginal antifungal medications, and prescription oral antifungal medications. Taking probiotics and eating probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt may help prevent fungal infections.

Another infection that thrives in warm, sweaty environments is bacterial vaginosis (BV). It’s caused when the balance of good and bad bacteria in your vagina gets out of whack. BV may cause a fishy vaginal odor and grey discharge. Not everyone with BV experiences symptoms.

Sometimes BV goes away without treatment, but persistent BV may be treated by prescription medications such as metronidazole or clindamycin.

Vestibulodynia

The vestibule is the area where your vulva joins your vagina. It’s a sensitive area that contains glands that produce healthy vaginal fluids. Vestibulodynia is persistent, unexplained pain in this area. The condition may occur without any visible signs, such as redness or inflammation. Exercise doesn’t cause the condition. However, if you have vestibulodynia, any exercise that puts pressure on the vulva and vagina may cause pain.

Applying A+D ointment or petroleum jelly to the affected area may help protect your skin and promote healing. Lidocaine gel and witch hazel may help relieve pain and make exercise more tolerable. Even so, you should avoid doing exercises that put pressure on your vulvar area until your symptoms are well-managed.

Exercise and pelvic organ prolapse

Organ prolapse occurs when the muscles in the pelvic area weaken and pelvic organs such as your bladder, uterus, and rectum fall out of place and press against your vagina. This creates a bulge in your vagina.

Exercises that strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, such as Kegel exercises, may help prevent a pelvic organ prolapse. But some exercises, such as weightlifting, jumping rope, jumping on a trampoline, intense abdominal work, running, and high-impact aerobics, may make a prolapse worse. If you have a prolapse, it may take some trial and error to determine which exercises won’t aggravate the condition.

Ways to prevent sports vagina

Many women don’t think about their vaginal health when they exercise — until something goes wrong. Take these steps to minimize or prevent vaginal discomfort during and after exercise:

Clean up: Don’t head home or run errands after your workout without hitting the locker room. If possible, take a shower. At the very least, wash your vaginal area and change sweat-soaked panties and pants.

Wear proper workout clothes: Tight yoga pants may look cute, but many aren’t breathable and cause friction during exercise. Wear cotton underwear, and choose looser workout clothes made from natural materials that repel moisture.

Apply protectant: It is no longer recommended to use talcum powder on your genitals. Instead, you can apply a thin layer of emollient, such as Calmoseptine, Vaseline or A+D ointment, before exercise.

Don’t ignore symptoms: A little vaginal itching or irritation after vigorous exercise isn’t unusual. If it persists, don’t wait for it to go away on its own. You may have an infection.

Healthy exercise habits

You can support your overall health and improve your exercise by:

  • staying well-hydrated before, during, and after exercise
  • practicing good hygiene
  • avoiding scented feminine care products and douching
  • getting an exercise buddy to keep you accountable
  • setting realistic goals and treating yourself when you achieve them
  • eating a healthy, well-balanced diet of lean meats and fish, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats
  • finding ways to manage stress such as journaling, meditation, and aromatherapy
  • getting enough sleep each night
  • developing an exercise regimen that works for you and includes cardio and strength training

The bottom line

If you regularly experience vaginal discomfort during exercise, it’s time to evaluate your workout habits. Take a look at your exercise wardrobe. Replace any tight clothing with looser outfits made of breathable fabrics. If you’re a fan of biking or indoor cycling, which puts pressure on your vagina, try something different to see if your condition improves. If vaginal irritation persists, you may have an infection or another condition that requires treatment. See your doctor for an evaluation.

Recurrent yeast infections can be super frustrating. No matter what you do, they just keep coming back. You know you have a yeast infection if your vagina is constantly burning, itching, and releasing a thick, white, odorless discharge. But having chronic yeast infections is even worse—that’s when your vagina decides to be a real jerk and gives you four or more yeast infections a year, according to the Mayo Clinic.

If you get yeast infections this often, you probably know the drill. At the first sign of yet another one, you may hightail it to your local drugstore, cruise through that aisle, and search for a yeast infection treatment that will make your symptoms disappear ASAP. But before you just accept a lifetime of creams and suppositories, you should know that it doesn’t have to be like this. Keep reading to learn why you may be dealing with recurrent yeast infections, plus how to get some much-needed relief.

First, you need to understand what a yeast infection is.

A yeast infection happens when a fungus called Candida albicans overgrows in your vagina and causes severe itchiness, irritation, and discharge, according to the Mayo Clinic. This is the type of fungus that most commonly causes yeast infections, per the Mayo Clinic.

Before you get grossed out, remember that it’s totally natural to have some Candida albicans in your vagina! Lactobacillus bacteria produces acid to prevent an overgrowth of this yeast and generally help keep your vagina happy and healthy. It’s only when this yeast grows too much that you can begin to have an issue.

What causes yeast infections?

If something disrupts the balance of your vagina’s pH, yeast can get out of control and cause an infection, Sherry A. Ross, M.D., a women’s health expert and author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period., tells SELF.

There are a few things that can disrupt that balance and cause a yeast infection, including:

  • Antibiotics: Antibiotic use is a huge one, since it can kill the healthy bacteria in your vagina that helps to ward off infections, according to the Mayo Clinic.
  • Scented products: In some cases, a new soap or laundry detergent with fragrance can set you up for a yeast infection by disrupting your natural pH balance. For similar reasons, you should keep douches of all forms away from your vagina: Trying to “clean” inside of yourself can promote pH disruption and is seriously unnecessary.
  • Hanging around in damp clothes: Wearing sweaty gym clothes or a wet bathing suit for too long can also contribute to yeast infections. Yeast loves warm, moist environments, and your workout gear or a wet bathing suit can trap heat and sweat, allowing yeast to flourish, Christine Greves, M.D., a board-certified ob/gyn at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies, tells SELF.
  • High estrogen levels: Having elevated estrogen levels due to pregnancy, taking high-estrogen birth control pills, or using estrogen hormone therapy can increase your risk of yeast infections. Excess estrogen can promote higher levels of glycogen (a stored form of glucose, also known as sugar) in the vagina. Yeast love sugar, Dr. Greves explains, which is extremely relatable and also why people with diabetes who have trouble controlling their blood sugar levels are often at a higher risk of getting yeast infections.
  • Having sex: Unfortunately, having sex can also promote yeast infections, although yeast infections aren’t considered a sexually transmitted infection, the Mayo Clinic notes.
  • A weak immune system: Having lowered immunity makes you more susceptible to getting yeast infections, according to the Mayo Clinic.

If you’re getting recurrent yeast infections, it could be that yours is being caused by a different type of fungus (instead of Candida albicans). In that case, your doctor would take a sample of your vaginal fluid and get it tested to figure out which fungus is to blame for your yeast infections, according to the Mayo Clinic. IDing the fungus is critical because it can help them prescribe more effective treatment so you can kick your recurrent yeast infections for good.

Related:

  • What to Do if You’re Extremely Sweaty in the General Vicinity of Your Vagina
  • 8 Reasons Your Vulva or Vagina Might Get All Swollen
  • 11 Reasons Your Vagina Smells a Little…Off

The next time you’re at the gym, you’re bound to see tons of men wearing compression gear. There’s a reason tight workout clothes are trendy: not only do they look great, but they also prevent any loose material from getting in the way of doing burpees or lunge jumps. But can wearing constrictive shorts and pants all day negatively affect your health? As it turn out, it can, particularly if you like to lounge around in your gym clothes while they’re still sweaty form that intense Crossfit circuit.

Hanging out in your sweaty gym wear for too long after your workout can lead to a host of skin and bacterial conditions, including yeast infections. Yup — men can get yeast infections, too. In fact, balanitis, or inflammation of the head of the penis, is pretty common (though it’s much more so among uncircumcised men). Here’s what you need to know.

What causes male yeast infections?

The most common cause of male yeast infections is having unprotected sex with a woman who has a yeast infection. So don’t do that. A sneakier way to come down with balanitis, however, is poor hygiene in the groin area, which includes letting sweat from your workout fester below the belt.

According to Dr. Mikhail Varshavski, wearing tight as opposed to loose workout clothes can “increase the likelihood of sweating and buildup of fungus.” Varshavski adds that dermatophytes, or fungi that feed on dead skin cells, as well as hair and nails, can cause jock itch or other types of fungal infections. Sweaty, moist environments are also playpens for candida, the fungus that causes yeast infections.

“Fungi like dermatophytes and yeast thrive in dark, humid, and warm environments,” explains Varshavski. “They need the moisture to reproduce and feed themselves, as they are very simple organisms and are unable to adapt well to other environments.”

If you have a compromised immune system, you might also be at risk. As with any skin condition, there can be multiple causes and links for a yeast infection.

What are the symptoms of male yeast infections?

In short, redness, itchiness, or swelling around the head of your penis.

The longer you stay in your tight workout gear, the higher your chances are of developing these symptoms. After you finish a workout be sure to hop in the shower stat, or at least change out of your dirty clothes.

How can I prevent a male yeast infection?

Again, don’t have unprotected sex with a woman who has a yeast infection. That’s a big one. Also: Make sure you’re washing yourself downstairs with regularity. If you’re not near a shower after you work out, you should still carry cleansing wipes with you to freshen your skin and avoid bacterial growth. (An additional tip: Make sure to clean your sweaty workout clothes thoroughly before wearing them again.)

Though tight workout clothes increase the risk of contracting a yeast infection, it’s still OK to wear compression gear in the gym, though it might not improve your workout — despite claims otherwise, the is tenuous at best. But try to be vigilant about how long you stay in your clothes, especially if they are dirty or moist.

It’s best to wear cotton whenever possible, Varshavski suggests. “Some fabrics can cause an allergic rash often related to their dyes, which is called contact dermatitis,” he says. Cotton leggings like the Under Armour Men’s ColdGear Armour Compression Leggings or this cotton compression crew neck T-shirt are safe bets.

“Cotton is an excellent fabric for reducing the chance to get a fungal infection,” he explains. “It is breathable, which will allow your body not to overheat, and it is moisture wicking so it will absorb the water away from your skin, therefore reducing the fungi’s ability to grow on your skin.”

How do I treat a male yeast infection?

It’s best to get an accurate diagnosis from a doctor, but if you suspect you have a yeast infection, it can usually be cured with an over-the-counter cream like Lotrimin.

Isadora Baum Isadora Baum is a freelance writer, certified health coach, and author of 5-Minute Energy.

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