Yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of fungus in the vagina. Anything that changes the delicate balance of chemicals in the vagina, such as going on or off oral contraceptives, taking a new sex partner, becoming pregnant, or general health problems, can cause an infection. Prolonged use of antibiotics is another major risk factor for recurrent yeast infections. Other common causes include a weakened immune system and a poor diet.
Around 75 percent of women experience a yeast infection at some point in their lives, but this common and uncomfortable condition is easily treatable. There are many things you can do to protect against yeast infections. Cutting down on sugar in your diet may be the best way, and eating yogurt can help restore the balance of good bacteria to your vagina and your entire intestinal track. (Avoid yogurts that are in sugar and instead go for real, natural yogurts that are rich in lactobacilli — a “good” bacteria that is needed to maintain healthy functioning inside the vagina). You should also make sure that you never douche or use scented soaps inside the delicate area of the vagina or between the labia. Instead, all you need to do is rinse with warm water. (If you must, use a mild, hypoallergenic soap, but never insert the soap inside the vagina). Avoiding bubble baths is also a good idea if you are prone to yeast infections or urinary tract infections.
You should also make sure to keep your vaginal area clean, dry, and protected from outer bacteria. If you exercise, make sure to change out of your sweaty workout clothes as soon as you are done, and you should also change out your wet bathing suit immediately as well. Sitting around in wet, sweaty undergarments can lead to yeast infections. Even when you aren’t working out or swimming, you should make sure that your undergarments are lightweight, breathable, comfortable and non-binding. A too-tight thong is not only painful. It can also disrupt the healthy bacterial balance of your vagina. And, remember: Wipe front to back! Anal bacteria can lead to infection and other painful symptoms if you wipe carelessly and move them into the vaginal area.
Also, it’s important to remember that receiving oral sex may be a risk factor for women who are especially prone to yeast infections, so use a dental dam (basically a small piece of latex that acts as a barrier) if you know you're one of them.
Luckily, there are effective over-the-counter remedies available to fight yeast infections — but if you've never had a yeast infection before, you should see your doctor first. You can also use the new vaginal infection testing kits that are available at drugstores, as these will help to tell you what type of infection you are suffering from, which is important since certain STDs can mimic the symptoms of a yeast infection.