Summer brings with it many things we all enjoy — warmer weather, vacations, pool time. Unfortunately, it also is the season when more women see their doctors regarding yeast, urinary tract, and bacterial infections. Follow this advice for helping to avoid these common but uncomfortable problems and for what to do should you happen to get any type of vaginitis (vaginal inflammation):
- Wear loose-fitting clothing and underwear that has a cotton crotch.
- Don’t sit around in a wet bathing suit or clothing.
- Urinate frequently (try not to “hold it”) and always after sexual intercourse.
- Stay away from douches and vaginal sprays.
- Don’t use scented tampons or other perfumed products on or in the vagina.
- Keep your immune system up (this is as simple as taking daily vitamins or drinking a glass of orange juice every morning).
If you have symptoms of a vaginal infection such as pain, burning during urination, itching, and abnormal discharge:
- Call your doctor, even if you think you may have a simple yeast infection
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Begin treatment as soon as possible
Many women often mistakenly think they have a yeast infection and treat themselves; when, in fact, they have a similar vaginal infection that will not respond to self-treatment with over-the-counter yeast medications. A study by the American Social Health Association found that 70% of women self-treated vaginal infections before calling a health care provider. Most often, they incorrectly thought they had a yeast infection when, in fact, it was bacterial vaginosis or another condition.
The important thing is not to guess, but to recognize the symptoms if you develop a vaginal infection. If you have any concerns, see Dr. Strebel or Dr. Grolle for precise testing and to get the most appropriate and effective treatment right away. Waiting too long to see a doctor or not properly treating an infection can result in even worse infections that can send you to the hospital and impact fertility, so it is absolutely necessary to treat your symptoms as soon as they appear. Keep in mind that the quicker you clear up any infections, the quicker you can get back in the pool and enjoy your summer.