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Female Genital Problems (cont.)

Prevention

If you practice good genital hygiene, you can also help prevent infection:

  • Keep your vaginal area clean. Use mild, unscented soap and water. Rinse well.
  • After using the toilet, wipe from front to back to avoid spreading yeast or bacteria from your anus to the vagina or urinary tract.
  • Wear underwear that helps keep your genital area dry and doesn't hold in warmth and moisture. One good choice is cotton underwear.
  • Avoid tight-fitting clothing, such as panty hose, and tight-fitting jeans. These may increase body heat and moisture in your genital area.
  • Change out of a wet swimsuit right away. Wearing a wet swimsuit for many hours may keep your genital area warm and moist.
  • Change pads or tampons often.
  • Don't douche or use deodorant tampons or feminine sprays, powders, or perfumes. These items can change the normal balance of organisms in your vagina.

Take antibiotics when needed, but avoid unnecessary use of antibiotics. Taking antibiotics exposes you to the risks of allergic reactions and antibiotic side effects (such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and yeast infections). Also, antibiotics may kill good bacteria.

Preparing For Your Appointment

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the following questions:

  • What are your main symptoms?
  • How long have you had your symptoms?
  • Have you had this problem in the past? If so, do you know what caused the problem at that time? How was it treated?
  • What does your vaginal discharge look and smell like?
  • What was the date of your last menstrual period? If you have been through menopause, how long ago was your last menstrual period?
  • Are you currently using any type of birth control method?
  • What medicines (especially antibiotics) are you taking or have you taken recently, if any?
  • Do you have any symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)?
  • What home treatment measures have you tried? Did they help?
  • What nonprescription medicines have you tried? Did they help?
  • Do you have a new sex partner? Do you have more than one sex partner? Does your partner have any symptoms? Have you had sex without using a condom? Do you think you have recently been exposed to a sexually transmitted infection (STI)?
  • Have you been diagnosed and treated for a sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the past? If so what was your diagnosis, and what treatment was done?
  • Do you have symptoms of a urinary tract infection, such as pain or burning on urination and a frequent urge to urinate?
  • Do you have any health risks?

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