Expert guide to prevent vaginal infections this monsoon

There is no denying that monsoons bring respite from the sweltering heat. But the rainy season can also “affect immunity, especially in women making them susceptible to various vaginal infections, including urinary tract infection,” said Dr Deepthi Ashwin, MBBS, MS(OBG), Senior Obstetrician and Gynecologist, Fortis La Femme Hospital, Richmond Road, Bengaluru.

Additionally, the atmospheric humidity can also accelerate other bacterial or fungal infections. “Vaginal candidiasis is the most common infection experienced by women during the monsoon,” she told indianexpress.com.

Some of the common symptoms of vaginal infection are

*Rashes in the private parts
*Vaginal/vulval itching
*Vaginal discharge
*Redness/swelling around the private parts
*Vaginal soreness
*Burning sensation during intercourse or while urinating

Prevention of vaginal infection

Bacterial and fungal infections impacting the genital area though common during monsoon are certainly avoidable.

Maintain good menstrual hygiene to avoid vaginal infection. (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

Maintain good personal hygiene

Clean your private area with lukewarm water and avoid any fragrant soaps. Clean the genital area twice a day. Do not douche the vagina. Douching involves cleaning the vagina from inside which destroys the protective bacteria.

Wipe and keep the genital area dry after urinating

Clean the genital region from front to back to prevent bacteria from the anus to enter the vagina. Avoid using wet wipes with chemicals to dry the area, plain toilet paper should do.

Pubic hair plays a protective role

It can prevent the spread of bacteria and reduce the risk of an infection. It also reduces friction during sexual intercourse and prevents transmission of bacteria. It is important to urinate before and after intercourse to reduce the growth of bacteria and prevent infections. Clean the genital area after intercourse. Avoid using female hygiene washes.

Wear breathable clothes

Cotton underwear is the best choice to prevent vaginal infections. Tight underwear can reduce airflow and increase irritation and risk of developing rashes. Breathable underwear keeps the genitals airy and helps it stay dry. Avoid wearing tight lowers or shorts or skinny jeans as they reduce ventilation and retain sweat in the vaginal area which can lead to rashes and infection.

Do not wear wet clothes for a long time as they increase the moisture levels and increase the incidence of skin infections and rashes. It also acts like a breeding ground for organisms and increases the chances of infection.

Maintain good menstrual hygiene

Change sanitary pads every four hours irrespective of the soakage, and tampons every two hours. Change the menstrual cups every eight hours. Do not use scented pads. Pads in general can increase the incidence of rashes due to increased humidity and can cause vaginal infections. Tampons can cause vaginal dryness and increase the incidence of an infection. Menstrual cups should be used whenever possible.

Stay well hydrated

During monsoon, water and salts are lost rapidly from our body which can lead to irritation and a burning sensation in the genital region. Make sure that you are consuming at least about 2 to 3 litres of water everyday which helps in maintaining the vaginal pH and reduces the risk of an infection. Staying well hydrated also keeps urinary infections at bay.

Eat curd

It helps maintain the vaginal pH.

To conclude, identify your individual risk factors and make lifestyle changes to reduce the risks of vaginal infections. “Do not self medicate and see your doctor who can diagnose and prescribe the appropriate treatment,” mentioned Dr Deepthi.

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