Ah, the summer. Sunshine, pool days, and backyard BBQ’s with friends and family.
It's probably the best time of year. But as the temperature rises, our bodies can get uncomfortably hot and sweaty, even down there.
Hot and humid environments can increase the risk of vaginal infections during the summer months. And while these types of infections are totally normal (nearly 75% of all adult women experience at least one yeast infection in their lifetime), they're never fun.
Warm weather can lead to an increase in the normal amount of yeast in the vagina, resulting in genital/vulvovaginal candidiasis — a.k.a. the dreaded yeast infection. And for reasons still unknown, bacterial infections like urinary tract infections (UTIs) also increase during the summertime. The last thing any of us wants to think about while chilling out poolside is that irritating itch down under.
Here are our top 5 tips for keeping your vagina cool, dry, and healthy.
- Cotton is king (going commando is queen)
When it comes to your underwear, sexiness must come second in summertime.
To keep your vagina nice and dry, choose underwear and pants made from breathable fabrics like cotton, and ditch the silk or synthetics. No matter how pretty they look, no yeast infection is worth it!
For bonus points, why not go commando at bedtime? Dr. Alyssa Dweck, co-author of V is for Vagina says, "If your vagina is constantly covered, more moisture collects down there, which cultivates an ideal environment for yeast growth." Letting your lady bits get fresh air will help you further reduce the risk of infection.
- Don’t lounge in a wet bikini
Warm, moist, and damp environments are perfect for candida growth (the fancy name for yeast).
Wet swimsuits or sweaty gym clothes can evolve into sumptuous breeding grounds for bacteria (sexy, right?). This doesn’t mean you can’t go for a dip. It just means you should immediately ditch the wet bikini afterward. Opt for a quick rinse in clean water and quickly get changed into dry clothes.
- Ditch the douche
It may come as a surprise, but your vagina is self-cleaning. (Isn’t mother nature amazing?)
But for some reason 20-40% of women between the ages of 15 and 44 still use a vaginal douche, even though doctors advise against it. We understand the instinct is to run for the soap when temperatures are soaring. But using scented products on your vagina can increase your chances of getting an infection in the uterus or cervix. Cleansing products alter the sensitive pH balance of your vagina and wash away much of the awesome good bacteria that's part of this amazing self-cleaning machine.
If you really feel like you need to freshen up down there, use a simple cotton cloth and a little tepid water.
- Pay extra attention to period hygiene
It can be easy to get distracted when you’re on summer vacay, but don’t forget to look after yourself during menstruation.
Much like wet bikini bottoms, tampons and pads can become inviting grounds for bacteria. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises changing tampons and pads every 4-8 hours, even during a light flow. You may want to change them even more often in the summer months.
- Don’t wax and splash
We all want to look our best, especially if we're revealing more flesh than usual.
Summertime can prompt many women to embark on a whole-body de-fuzz, including the sensitive bikini area. Whether you wax, epilate or shave, don’t do it the night before a trip to the beach or pool. Jumping into a chlorinated swimming pool straight after a fresh shave or wax can lead to irritated skin pores and even infection. If possible, it's best to wait 24-48 hours before diving in.
Untreated yeast infections rarely have long-term complications, but they're definitely uncomfortable. If you suspect you have a vaginal infection, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
Don’t let a vaginal infection put a damper on your summer fun. Stick to these tips and enjoy summer to the fullest!