By: Kimberly Tsumbu
It is no secret that sexual activity increases our risk of disease and infection, but what if your are not sexually active? Or you don’t have a partner. Are we still at risk of infections? The answer is yes. Infections can occur as a result of our everyday routine. Something as simple as soap or powder can leave us women in a world of pain. To minimize our risk, it is important to learn healthy habits from our OB/GYN’s.
Everyday Activities that cause Infection & Preventions
1. Scented soap, powder, and douching
As women we love feeling fresh and clean. But some of the products that we use may be the source of our vaginal issues. Our vagina is a delicate ecosystem complete with a host of vibrant bacteria. These bacteria fight on our behalf to keep us healthy and maintain our vaginal pH. When foreign substances like perfumed soaps, powders, and vaginal cleaners are introduced they can change our pH. Weakening our bodies' natural ability to ward off infection. OB/GYNs recommend using neutral unscented soaps and water to reduce risk.
2. Doing the Dirty, Dirty
Watching your significant other work out can be quite attractive. But, the bacteria growing on their sweaty skin are not. Being intimate while dirty can introduce unwanted bacteria into your vaginal ecosystem. Here they can grow and thrive. You also want to be clean when being intimate as well, because it reduces the risk of unwanted pathogens on your own skin from finding their way in.
3. Leaving Sperm Inside
Even though a woman's body is created to receive sperm, sperm is still considered a foreign substance. In fact our partners themselves are considered a foreign substance, and our bacteria may even try to attack them. When ejaculation occurs, millions of sperm are released, overwhelming the vaginal ecosystem. Sperm is living, meaning it can also die. Drinking water and using the restroom helps us with ridding our body of unsuccessful sperm along with other foreign bacteria introduced by our partner.
4. Improper Menstrual Care
Many companies state that their menstrual products can be worn up to 12 hours. Twelve hours is a very long time, and gives new bacteria an opportunity to grow and infect. OB/GYNs recommend that women wear their pad no longer than a max of 8 hours. Simply Giraffe recommends no more than 6 hours (to avoid the bacteria danger zone). For children and teens, OB/GYNs recommend that they change their pads every 3-4 hours.
5. Oil Based Lubricant
Studies have shown that oil-based lubricants can increase the chance of getting an infection by 22-32 percent. This is because the ingredients in them can affect pH balance. OB/GYNs recommend using water-based lubricants. The human body is 70 percent water, so the body already knows how to break down water. This makes it easier for the body to break down water-based lubricants.
Tight pants, shorts, and even our choice of underwear can cause infections. Nemour.org stated that, "Clothing (especially underwear) that's tight or made of materials like nylon that trap heat and moisture might make yeast infections more likely." Wearing looser clothing will allow for proper air flow. OB/GYNs also recommend wearing cotton underwear. Cotton underwear is breathable and allows for proper air regulation.
A part of taking care of our body is knowing how our body functions, so we can determine what it truly needs. I encourage every woman to meet with their OB/GYN once a year for check-ups, and to ask them questions. Because knowledge arms us with the tools to be successful with our health.
[Disclaimer: I am not a licensed OB/GYN. This knowledge was gained through life experiences and the sources listed above]