And what does that even mean, right? With summer in full swing, you might be focusing on your bikini bod—and we are too, just not quite for the reasons you might think.
You may have heard that sitting around in a bathing suit could put you at risk for a UTI or vaginal infection. And while there is some truth to that, it’s not so cut and dry. Let’s break it down.
Summer equals heat, humidity, and moisture (three things that bacteria and yeast l-o-v-e). When your vagina is exposed to a warm, moist environment for an extended period of time, it can potentially cause an overgrowth of bacteria and yeast. That, along with friction from your one-piece, chemicals like chlorine, or even dehydration from sweating, can disrupt your healthy vaginal flora and lead to a vaginal infection, which can spread to other parts of the body, like the bladder or kidneys, if left untreated.
Other things to consider are your diet. Because sugar is acidic, sugary foods and drinks, including alcohol, disturb the pH balance of the vagina and the bladder and increase your chance of infection. Eating a well-balanced diet and curbing the alcohol may help, but there are a few situations that can put you even more at risk, for example:
If you have medical problems like diabetes, maintaining a healthy blood sugar level is essential to decrease your risk of infections.
Perimenopausal and menopausal women have a lower level of lactobacilli, which is needed to maintain a healthy vaginal flora and pH to fight infections. Studies show that older women with lower levels of lactobacilli in their vagina were at increased risk of vaginal atrophy or thinning of the walls of the vagina.
Some symptoms of vaginal atrophy, BV (aka Bacterial Vaginosis), or UTIs include bleeding after intercourse, painful sex, itching, abnormal vaginal discharge, and a burning sensation when urinating. Not fun—especially during summer. But, before you google the best medicine for yeast infections or how to treat BV at home, let’s talk prevention.
Treat Your V Right
Translation: Be gentle! Use a mild, pH-balancing cleanser (one of our fave feminine products), avoid vigorous rubbing when drying down-there, and stay away from vaginal douching, scented sprays, or powders which can be harmful.
Be Bathing Suit-Smart
Avoid wearing bathing suits (or tight clothing) for prolonged periods of time, choose ones that are moisture-wicking or quick-dry, and change out of your bathing suit when finished swimming and throw on clean, dry cotton underwear.
When you use the bathroom, wipe front to back to reduce the risk of exposure of bacteria from the gut entering the bladder or vagina. You can also use special female wipes (like these) to freshen up on-the-go.
Last, But Not Least
Vaginal boric acid suppositories like The Killer work super fast to balance yeast, odor-causing bacteria, and vaginal pH levels, making it the perfect thing for days when you might have stayed in sweaty leggings for a little too long or when you're dealing with vaginal odor.*
(*If you feel like you might already have some symptoms of vaginal atrophy, infection, or a UTI, make an appointment with your gyno so that they can confirm and give you the right course of treatment.)
SO, to recap on how to get your vagina summer-ready:
- Drink at least 64oz of water every day to stay hydrated and flush out your bladder.
- Avoid sugary foods and consider taking a probiotic for women that delivers healthy bacteria to prevent infections.
- Add supplements called proanthocyanidins (PAC) like UTI Don’t Think So. Research shows that PAC prevents bacteria from attaching to the bladder wall and decreases the chance of infection.
- If you have recurrent yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis, it’s good to keep boric acid vaginal suppositories handy.
And with allll that, we wish you a V happy summer!
Dr. Jodie Horton