If you’ve had a yeast infection, then you know how uncomfortable it can be—and you’re probably looking to avoid another at all costs. These infections typically cause an itchy, burning sensation in the vagina, but they can actually occur anywhere in the body where moisture is trapped between folds of skin.
Unfortunately, exercise can actually serve as a hidden culprit, due to the combination of sweat and snug workout clothes. Here are three things to know about exercise and yeast infections, according to the experts.
They’re most common in your armpits, groin, and vagina.
“Yeast infections commonly cause problems in the armpit, groin, and vagina,” explains Dr. Christopher Hollingsworth of NYC Surgical Associates. “The involved skin folds will appear very angry and red.”
Dr. C. Nicole Swiner, partner at Durham Family Medicine and adjunct associate professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, says symptoms often include white discharge, an itching or burning sensation, or a diaper rash-like look and feel to the affected area. These types of infections are very common for women and are usually caused by a pH imbalance.
Sweaty, unwashed clothes are more likely to harbor the types of fungus that cause yeast infections.
“The balance of acid and base in secretions in the vaginal area can be thrown off by recent medications, hormonal changes, intercourse, irritants that we may be allergic to, or sweaty or moist environments,” Dr. Swiner notes. “Anytime there is an overgrowth of what is naturally occurring down there, yeast infections can occur.”
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If you have a yeast infection, you can still workout.
Even though working out while you have a yeast infection may be annoying, to say the least, it’s technically fine to keep hitting the gym; you won’t make things worse, especially if you’re already treating the infection. But, if you want to skip your workout due to the severity of inflammation, then that’s okay, too.
”Working out can cause yeast infections, but one does not need to stop working out during treatment,” says Dr. Swiner. “Treatments include probiotics, which can be used both internally and externally, over-the-counter Monistat (or other anti-yeast creams), or vaginal inserts.”
Don’t stop working out just because you have an infection – use Aaptiv’s workout app to get moving.
Lower your risk with a few simple steps.
“Sweaty, unwashed clothes are more likely to harbor the types of fungus [that] cause yeast infections,” says Dr. Hollingsworth. “In the absence of personal hygiene, these yeasts spread to the skin, then find a moist area, where they start to multiply and cause dermatitis. Tight-fitting clothing, poor hygiene, close skin-to-skin contact with friction, and moisture in areas of your body with poor ventilation are all risk factors.”
- While you can’t prevent yeast infections one hundred percent, to help reduce your risk you can certainly practice good habits, with respect to exercise:
- Use good hygiene. Don’t re-wear the same workout clothes day after day, and be sure to shower after each workout.
- Wear loose-fitting, breathable layers to help wick away moisture.
Talk to your healthcare provider about treatment, or explore medicated powders to keep problem areas dry.
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