The beach days. The bikini shopping sprees. The… burning when you pee? Yup, summer fun can come with some major bummers, and we’re not talking about uneven tan lines. Urinary tract infections spike* in the summer, and experts say that women who are prone to yeast infections find that summer is yeast’s busy season, too. You have all that warm sunshine to thank for it — yeast and bacteria thrive in moist, dark places… like your bathing suit after a dip in the pool. You don’t have to swear off poolside afternoons for good, though. Here’s how you can enjoy your summer, sans vaginal woes:
Change out of your wet bathing suit ASAP
Bring a change of clothes to the beach or pool. “Sometimes women have a bad habit of getting out of the water and doing other activities in their damp swimsuits, potentially giving bacteria an ideal breeding ground that is dark and moist to thrive in,” says McKinzie Brocail, who works for UTItreatment.com, an online clinic with doctors that diagnose and treat UTIs. And when you’re going bathing suit shopping, choose one made from material that’s moisture-wicking or quick-dry, says Dr. Alyssa Dweck, an OB/GYN in New York City.
Wear loose-fitting clothing
It’s not just your bathing suit that puts you at risk for below-the-belt unpleasantness. Those skintight shorts may make your legs look great, but your vagina is desperate for a little air. “Wearing tight fitting clothing is also a no-no for women who are prone to getting UTIs or yeast infections,” says Brocail. “Tight clothing is often not breathable and doesn’t allow moisture to dry out fully — and realistically, the groin is a dark, damp place even without a wearing a wet swimsuit.”
Add probiotics to your diet
“To avoid UTIs and yeast infections, add yogurt with probiotics into your diet,” recommends Sydney Ziverts, Health & Nutrition Investigator at ConsumerSafety.org. “The live cultures in probiotics help to strengthen the GI tract, making a stronger defense against yeast infections.” Taking a supplement is another great way to get your daily dose of probiotics in order to help support vaginal and urinary tract health.
Pay special attention to your diet too, especially if you’re prone to yeast infections. “A diet low in sugar, alcohol, and white flour will help prevent yeast infections (whether you are in a bathing suit or not),” says Dr. Dweck.
Be especially careful with pools and hot tubs
“Limit time spent in heavily chlorinated hot tubs/pools as it could increase the chance of infection for those who are sensitive,” says Dr. Dweck. Chlorine kills off bacteria — good for the pool, but not great for your vagina, which has its own good bacteria to keep it healthy. When chlorine kills that good bacteria off, it can throw off your vagina’s optimal pH balance and cause an infection. Even without chlorine, the extreme heat of a jacuzzi can encourage yeast overgrowth.
Between the heat and being on the go (or passing out on a beach towel), it’s easy to get a little dehydrated during the summer months. Stay on top of your water intake — it’s good for you in general, but will also keep your bladder flushed and decrease your risk of developing a UTI.
Bottom line: Take extra precautions during the summer, especially if you’re prone to UTIs and yeast infections. And if you do notice itching, weird discharge, or burning when you pee, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with your doc if it doesn’t go away on its own. UTIs and yeast infections aren’t the only things to cause those symptoms, and a professional can diagnose and treat you fast — and get you back to the beach, stat.