Dear Dr. Kate, Can Yeast Infections Be Prevented?

Dr. Kate is an OB/GYN at one of the largest teaching hospitals in New York City and she answers your medical questions every few weeks on EMandLO.com. To ask her your own question, click here.

Dear Dr. Kate,

Is there any way to prevent yeast infections?

— Itchy & Scratchy

Dear I.S.,

Not completely. The biggest risk factor for getting a yeast infection is having a vagina — not an easy risk factor to modify. But the more gently you treat your vulva and vagina, the less likely you are to get a yeast infection. This means three things: Limit your chemical exposure — no perfumed products like bubble baths and sprays, use simple soap in the shower, no daily pantiliners…and for god’s sake, no douching. Keep yourself dry, and let your vagina breathe — cotton underwear over nylon, no undies at night, get out of your workout clothes as soon as you’re done working out, change your tampons and pads frequently during your period. And limit your exposure to irritants — use just your fingers to clean yourself in the shower, no puffs or washcloths, and use a liquid clothes detergent over powder.

— Dr. Kate

Dr. Kate is an OB/GYN at one of the largest teaching hospitals in New York City. She also lectures nationally on women’s health issues and conducts research on reproductive health. She generously shares her medical wisdom with EM & LO readers every few weeks. Check out more of her advice and ask her a question at Gynotalk.com.