Since I had surgery to remove my appendix and a random abscess drained (most likely caused by appendicitis), I've been scared of cruises, pools, and hot tubs. The thing is, the doctors have no clue what could have caused my appendicitis or what could have caused the abscess, but when I told them I had been on a cruise the week before, they didn't rule out swimming pools or hot tubs, which I spent a vast majority of my vacation time sitting in. A lot of people don't realize that pools CAN make you sick!

In fact, studies have found genetic fragments from the fecal germ E. coli in 58 percent of public pools. How gross is that? As if that wasn't enough to make you think twice about taking a dip this summer, bacteria isn't the only pool problem you can run into. Chlorine (the chemical that protects us from pool germs) can do a number on your vagina.

While this may not be the case for everyone, sometimes the chlorine in pools can create a harsh environment for your vagina and affect its natural pH balance. "Chlorinated water is a big but commonly overlooked problem in developing a yeast infection. By swimming in a chlorinated pool or jacuzzi (spa pool), you are allowing your body to absorb plenty of chlorine, an antibiotic," it states on "They throw it in to kill any bacteria and algae, and not unlike an antibiotic you swallow, you are allowing the yeasts to thrive by reducing the beneficial bacterial levels in your body. Just as chlorine kills bacteria in the water, it also kills the body's normal bacterial flora."

So how can you keep yourself protected in public pools or hot tubs? It's not practical to do away with them for good, especially considering summer is approaching. Here are a few things that can help!

1. Shower before you jump in: Taking a vigorous shower using soap and water before going into a pool or hot tub can help loads. Make sure to give your vagina a good wash before and after using the collection.

2. Take bathroom breaks: Considering how sensitive vaginas are to bacterial exposure, the same way you pee before and after sex, you should pee before and after entering a pool. Some sources recommend you try taking a bathroom break every 60 minutes.

3. Take a shower rinse: If you're stepping out of the pool for some reason, take a proper shower rinse before stepping back in.

4. Don't sit around in a wet bathing suit: If you start lounging around while wearing your damp bathing suit, you're basically asking for a vaginal infection to come. Remember: moist environments make you more prone to developing yeast. Change out of your bathing suit right away, shower, then dry your vaginal area thoroughly.

5. Take a probiotic: Probiotics help maintain the right bacteria balance and help prevent any pH issues that can lead to yeast, UTI, or any other kind of vaginal infection. Before dipping into the pool, you can take one, but I recommend making them daily.

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