Women's HEALTH

Everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask


The long, hot days of summer are here, and it seems that our days are filled with cookouts, swimming, outdoor sports and other decidedly sweaty occupations. You remembered your sunscreen, water and bug spray, but did you remember some CLEAN UNDERWEAR? Yes, my friends, along with a host of other health-care concerns, summer is prime time for a yeast infection to strike.

WHY: All women normally have yeast present in our chemical makeup, but the fact is that these little buggers just love a hot, moist environment, and summer encourages just that type of environment. Those hours in a damp bathing suit or sweaty shorts are certain to cause yeast bacteria to grow and multiply until they are out of control.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: The hallmark symptoms of a yeast infection are itching and burning in the vaginal area and a copious white or yellow discharge, which may be accompanied by a musky odor. Occasionally, these symptoms are accompanied by a burning sensation while urinating.

WHAT TO DO: While it is true that there are many over-the-counter medications and treatments for yeast infections, it is advisable that you see a doctor and get a definite diagnosis. There are several other conditions that can masquerade as a yeast infection including bacterial infections, urinary tract infections and even some STDs (sexually transmitted diseases). A trip to the doctor will rule out these other possibilities and ensure that you are treated properly.

PREVENTION: There are several things that women can do to help prevent a yeast infection from starting. Wear clean cotton panties and make sure clothes can breathe. When swimming, try not to sit around in a warm, wet bathing suit whenever possible. Be sure to wash yourself thoroughly and frequently with a mild unscented soap during hot summer months and wash sweaty shorts and underwear in hot water with a little bleach added to help kill yeast bacteria. Cut down on refined white sugars and flours and other carbohydrate-loaded foods. Studies have shown that a high-carbohydrate diet only adds to the possibility of a yeast imbalance. Finally, yogurts containing live bacterial cultures have shown to help prevent the occurrence of yeast infections.

Dana Portwood is a writer, wife and mother. As a health care advocate she believes that there is no question that is too embarrassing or inappropriate to answer. She hopes to educate readers on some of the less delicate subjects.


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