We're willing to bet that at one time or another you've done one (or all) of the following:
Gone for a run, jumped back into your car, taken care of a few errands on your way home, done some household tasks, and started cooking dinner--all before showering.
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Gone for a sweaty run with some friends and then hit a bagel or coffee shop together afterwards before heading home to shower.
Realized you'd run out of clean workout clothes, so you pulled out a pair of shorts or tights from your dirty-clothes hamper.
More: How to Wash Your Workout GearNoticing a theme here? Most of us at times have been guilty of ignoring the basic rules of feminine hygiene. The possible penalty? Irritation or infection of your vagina or bladder, says Pat Kulpa, M.D., a sports gynecologist in Gig Harbor, Washington. Sweat mixed with warm bodily fluids creates the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, yeast, and other germs. So, yes, you really do need to wear clean running clothes and shower right after a run, especially during the summer months.
More: 5 Hot Weather Running Gear TipsHere are four other pointers:
1. Hydrate fully before and after your runs, and cut back on caffeine. Dehydration coupled with too much caffeine can promote bladder irritation and infection. If you don't want to carry your water with you, try these Foods That Keep You Hydrated instead.
2. Nix your underwear and wear running shorts with looser-fitting, built-in liners if your vaginal area tends to chafe. Also, avoid snug-fitting underwear that can sometimes cause irritation (check out these Top 11 Sports Bras for Every Size to find the right fit). In winter, wear synthetic undies as a protective layer under your nylon tights, which can be irritating.
3. If you're menstruating, use unscented sanitary products to avoid irritation, and change your tampon or pad right after you run.
4. If you experience a bout of "runner's trots," common during hot-weather running, wipe your bottom carefully. Your feces can easily contaminate your vagina and cause infection.
More: Running Gear Tips for WomenSign up for your next race.
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