How to protect yourself from genital tract infections in summer?
Summer is the season of the year during which there is an increased frequency of vaginal and urinary tract infections, the most common during this period are fungal infections, vaginitis, urethritis, cystitis, and the frequency of sexually transmitted diseases also increases. The reason for this jump is the high temperature and wet weather, which are a prerequisite for the development of infection, as well as improper activities during this period and the calmer behaviour of most vacationers.
The female reproductive system has protective mechanisms against inflammatory diseases, which can be divided into two groups: anatomical and biological. Anatomical protective mechanisms include the labia minora and labia majora, which cover the entrance to the vagina, as well as the narrow cervical canal. These structures reduce the risk of entry of exogenous infectious agents.
In addition to anatomical, the female reproductive system also has biological defence mechanisms. The most important of these is the pH of the environment, which is alkaline in the vaginal vestibule, acidic in the vagina, and again alkaline in the cervical canal. The acidic environment in the vagina is provided by Doderlein lactobacilli, which produce lactic acid and prevent the development of pathogenic flora in the vagina. The vagina, of course, is also inhabited by opportunistic pathogens, which under certain conditions, such as alkalization of the environment, increase their population and lead to the development of infection.
In the summer season, humidity and high temperatures create a favourable environment for the development of certain infections. For this reason, the observance of certain rules during the summer holidays is of fundamental importance for the reproductive health of women:
1. Do not stay in a wet swimsuit or wet clothes for a long time – it is recommended to use swimsuits made of quick-drying materials or change swimsuits more often. Wearing wet bathing suits increases the risk of fungal infections, the most common of which is Candida albicans infection. The condition is quite unpleasant and is manifested by white discharge, similar to curdled milk, itching and redness in the vulva, burning, pain during urination, an unpleasant odour, etc.
2. Do not use vaginal douches – the female genital tract has its own defence mechanisms and daily washing with water and detergent with the appropriate pH is sufficient for personal hygiene. The use of vaginal douches leads to a violation of the acidic environment in the vagina and is one of the prerequisites for the development of vaginal infections, the most common of which is bacterial vaginosis.
3. Use cotton underwear – cotton is a breathable material and prevents moisture retention during this period and the development of a fungal infection. Wear loose clothing and avoid synthetic fabrics.
4. Use appropriate intimate hygiene products that do not contain perfumes and help maintain an acidic environment in the vagina.
5. Remove hair in the intimate area carefully and use the most suitable method for you – shaving the intimate area is not recommended, especially in front of the sea or pool, because inflammation may occur, which is the front door for pathogenic microorganisms.
6. Use condoms during intercourse. In summer, many people lead a more relaxed lifestyle, which increases the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. Limiting the number of sexual partners as much as possible, avoiding casual sex and using condoms during intercourse are the main methods for preventing sexually transmitted infections.
Typically, symptoms of a genital tract infection include redness, fever, swelling, pain, and dysfunction. Patients complain of a change in the nature of vaginal discharge, the appearance of an unpleasant odour, pain, and burning during urination, pain during intercourse, general malaise, fatigue, fever, etc.
The diagnosis is made on the basis of the clinical picture, gynaecological examination, colposcopy, and microbiological examination of the material from the genital tract. If an infection is detected, appropriate treatment is prescribed.
Genital tract infections in summer