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Vaginal Wellness and Autoimmune Disorders in Women

The immune system in your body is a complex network consisting of organs and special cells to defend your body against foreign invaders and germs. There are many different immune system diseases, called autoimmune disorders, which are more common in women than in men.

What is an Autoimmune Disorder?

Your body has an immune system, which defends it from foreign invaders and germs. At the core of this system is the ability to tell non-self from self germs and foreign invaders. A flaw can occur, which affects the immune system from being able to identify these foreign invaders. When this flaw happens, it is known as an autoimmune disorder.

The autoimmune disorder is when your body stops recognizing the self- from non-self invaders and creates autoantibodies. These autoantibodies begin attacking normal cells by mistake. This action can even cause your regulatory T cells to fail in keeping the immune system on task.

This failure to recognize foreign invaders and the antibodies attacking normal cells is called the autoimmune disorder. The parts of your body affected depend on the type of autoimmune disorder you have. There are more than eighty types of this disorder.

Autoimmune Disorder and Yeast Infections

Studies have shown if you suffer from an autoimmune disorder, you may have a higher risk of  developing a yeast infection. An autoimmune disorder can target and destroy immune-fighting proteins that are to keep yeast in balance.

Another cause of yeast infections can come from some of the medications prescribed to treat certain chronic medical conditions, which weaken the immune system. When you have a weakened immune system, you also increase your risk of developing a yeast infection.

If your immune system is compromised, you have a more difficult time fighting off any type of infection, including a yeast infection. If you are a woman who takes corticosteroids for asthma or uses a TNF inhibitor for an autoimmune disorder, such as lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, or rheumatoid arthritis, your risk of developing a yeast infection is much higher.

Women who have had an organ transplant or have other diseases which compromise their immune system, such as AID/HIV, or are suffering from cancer, increase the risk of yeast infection.

How to Reduce Your Risk of Yeast Infection

If you are suffering from a condition that puts you at risk of developing a yeast infection, there are precautions to take to reduce those risks.

  • Wear cotton- When choosing your undergarments, you should choose ones made from cotton fabrics. Stay away from synthetic materials, such as nylon. 
  • Keep dry- If you use panty liners, you want to change them frequently, so you remain dry as possible.
  • Wear the correct size of clothing- Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothing, such as pantyhose or tight underwear. Loose clothing will allow air to circulate around your vagina.
  • Don't douche- Douching changes the healthy balance of organisms in your body. It also changes the acidity in your vagina and can cause a yeast infection.
  • Don't soak- If you are prone to developing yeast infections, you should not indulge in long bathtub soaks, or long sits in a hot tub.
  • Use unscented hygiene products- Avoid any of the scented hygiene products as they can alter the levels of bacteria in your vagina.

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