Vaginal Health

Updated 24 April 2015

Risk factors for vaginal infections

There are a number of factors that can place you at a higher risk of developing a vaginal infection.If you are pregnant or have a pre-existing condition such as diabetes, it is even more important to keep an eye out for infections.

The following factors may increase the likelihood of an abnormal vaginal discharge:

- General poor health, including lack of sleep, poor diet and stress
- Hot weather, non-ventilating clothing, especially underwear, or any condition that increases genital moisture, warmth and darkness
- Changes in hormone levels through pregnancy, breast-feeding, menopause, some oral and injectable contraceptives and steroid use
- Smoking
- Stress
- Alcohol consumption
- Douching - this can upset the natural vaginal balance, as can other chemically treated products such as "feminine hygiene" sprays
- Drugs or diseases that lower the body's resistance to infection - women with HIV infection, for example, are more prone to yeast infections
- Diabetes mellitus or a pre-diabetic condition
- Unprotected sexual intercourse, especially with multiple partners
- Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Infection elsewhere in the body
- Antibiotics can kill beneficial vaginal bacteria
- Antibacterial soaps and topical antimicrobial agents
- Over-the-counter medications improperly used
- Spermicides
- Obesity
- High carbohydrate intake, especially sugars and alcohol - may stimulate yeast infection

Reviewed by Dr. Owen Wiese, April 2015.


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.