During the summer, many women experience changes in their vaginal health such as a vaginal infection (vaginitis). That has to do with a number of factors that are unique to the summer season and some factors that are present all year long.
Vaginal infections like yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, or trichomoniasis are not uncommon. In fact, the Office on Women’s Health estimates that around three out of four women will have a yeast infection at some point. If you follow these eight tips, you can maintain your vaginal health this summer and beyond.
1. Don’t Hang Out in Wet or Damp Clothes
Vaginal yeast infections can occur if moisture is trapped around your vulva (the exterior of the female genitals). The wet environment creates a breeding ground for bacteria that can cause yeast infections. If you go swimming, change out of your wet bathing suit as soon as possible. If you’re working out and get really sweaty, change out of your clothes and put on a clean pair of underwear as soon as your workout is over.
2. Wear Breathable Clothing
When it’s hot outside, you’ll be sweating. So one of the best things you can do for your summer vaginal health is to wear breathable clothing. Choose fabrics that won’t trap moisture and don’t wear anything that is too tight or constricting. For underwear, your go-to underwear should be made of cotton or at least have a cotton crotch.
If you’re working out or expect to sweat more than usual, look for materials that can wick moisture. If you have a lot of discharge and dampness during the day, consider packing an extra pair of underwear discreetly in your bag to change into during the day. That can keep you more comfortable and protected.
3. Try Sleeping Without Underwear
If you’re having trouble with vaginal infections or irritation, you might want to consider sleeping without underwear. Even breathable underwear can trap moisture around your vulva. And we already know that while the vaginal environment is naturally moist, you need to avoid trapping the moisture because it can lead to bacterial growth.
While you need to wear underwear and clothing during the day, you can try skipping the undies when you sleep to prevent moisture However, not everyone feels comfortable (mentally or physically) sleeping in the nude or without underwear. So only try this if you want to. Cotton underwear is a good choice if you don’t want to forego underwear completely.
4. Avoid Douches and Scented Cleansers
One of the cardinal rules of vaginal health is avoiding douching. Your vagina’s natural environment has certain “flora” or bacteria for a reason. Those bacteria need to stay balanced to keep your vagina and vulva healthy. Douches and other cleansers destroy healthy bacteria, which throws things off balance and increase your chances of infection. Plus, many douches and cleansers contain artificial scents or other ingredients that can cause irritation to the sensitive tissues of your vagina and vulva.
5. Check Ingredients in Intimate Products
This applies to vaginal health all year round, so it definitely applies to the summer. Make sure any of the intimate products you use like lubricants or hygiene items don’t contain ingredients that can cause irritation or infection. Again, scented products can often cause irritation or even infection. And if you use lubricant due to vaginal dryness, make sure it contains safe and clean ingredients and doesn’t contain scents, parabens, dyes, flavors, or non-natural oils.
6. Make Dietary Changes
What you eat can affect your vaginal health. For instance, the amount of sugar in your diet can affect your chances of getting a yeast infection because yeast feeds on sugar. Try limiting sugar in your diet if you have recurrent yeast infections. You can also try probiotics that contain healthy bacteria. Some foods like plain Greek yogurt have natural probiotics or you can try supplements.
7. Be Careful with Hair Removal
Some medical professionals recommend that you keep most of your pubic hair. Pubic hair serves a purpose after all, but not all women feel comfortable with that. We’d recommend trimming and cleaning up your bikini line if you want. But if you choose to take more off, your personal grooming routine is your business. But if you do decide to remove some or all of your pubic hair, be mindful of the places you remove it from and how you remove it.
If you are prone to razor bumps or ingrown hairs, shaving probably isn’t your best bet. Try waxing or laser treatments instead. Just make sure you go to a licensed professional to ensure your safety and vaginal health. If you do shave, always use a clean razor to prevent infections if you knick yourself. And always use products with clean ingredients that won’t irritate your skin.
8. Get Treatment if Infections Do Occur
If you have irritation or signs of an infection, go see your women’s healthcare provider so you can be evaluated. They can confirm whether you have an infection and they can prescribe antibiotics for treatment if necessary.
Contact a Certified Nurse-Midwife
The Certified Nurse-Midwives of the City of Oaks Midwifery provide comprehensive and holistic care to their patients in the Raleigh, NC area. That includes providing quality preventive care through annual women’s wellness exams. Call (919) 351-8253 to schedule an appointment.
*During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are still seeing OB patients for regular appointments and GYN patients for appointments addressing urgent needs. If you need regular GYN care like a well-woman visit, please contact us for guidance.
We ask that any patient with upper respiratory symptoms call our office for directions rather than coming in. We do not currently have testing capabilities and need to limit possible exposure to other patients.