Bacterial Vaginosis: 5 facts that every woman needs to know
Making sure everything is well and good 'down there' should be on every woman's agenda, no?
I mean; we are obsessed with health and wellness on every other level, so it only seems like a natural step that this should also include our vaginas.
But when it comes to our most private parts, it seems many of us are guilty of not being able to tell one condition and problem from another.
For instance, when a woman is experiencing an unfamiliar smell and unusual discharge from her vagina, many will assume the worst—a sexually transmitted disease (STD). However, ladies, the culprit is not always an STD, but a common bacterial infection caused by a pH imbalance in the vagina – known as Bacterial Vaginosis
And don't worry; if you have never heard of BV before, you are not alone. In fact; many will often mistake this common infection for thrush – and try to treat it as if it is.
Want to keep your bits in their best condition? Here are five helpful facts that will arm you with the info you need next time you are experiencing some unusual symptoms.
Mystery surrounding BV
Bacterial Vaginosis is the most common cause of vaginal symptoms among women, but it is not clear what part sexual activity plays in the development of BV. Though doctors do know that having a new sexual partner, multiple sexual partners and douching may upset the pH balance of bacteria in the vagina, putting women at an increased risk for getting BV. The infection can occur in all women, regardless of if you are or have ever been sexually active. Men cannot suffer from BV; however, a man’s semen is an alkaline and can therefore upset the vaginal pH, causing a BV infection in their partner.
BV is not an STD
It is important to understand that BV is not an STD—it is simply an imbalance of “good” and “bad” bacteria in the vagina. BV can occur in any female, even in women who aren’t having sex. BV is commonly associated with sexual activity (i.e. a new partner), but it cannot always be attributed to sexual intercourse.
Not everyone will experience symptoms
Sometimes women will experience no noticeable symptoms of BV. Of those who do experience symptoms, BV can be identified by excessive vaginal discharge, often accompanied with a fishy odour. BV doesn’t usually cause any soreness or itching. This can be a key differentiator in identifying if you have BV or Thrush.
Testing for BV
As you discuss your symptoms with your doctor, let it be known that thin, grey discharge, accompanied with a fishy odour usually identify BV. There are ways for your doctor to check if you have the infection. For instance, he or she might take a sample (with a swab) from your vaginal wall to rule out other infections. Another sign that can confirm the diagnosis is a vaginal pH test, a pH value higher than 4.5 usually indicates BV.
Antibiotics vs or over the counter remedies
If you have the symptoms of unusual vaginal discharge along with an unpleasant fishy odour, you can seek an over the counter treatment – like for instance Relactagel – to treat and prevent BV. This is a lactic acid gel and works by promoting the growth of naturally occurring flora and rebalancing your vaginal pH.
It is also important to know that antibiotics themselves can disrupt the beneficial vaginal flora, which can lead to a yeast infection or to recurring BV infection. If you see a doctor and are prescribed antibiotics, remember that you can also use a lactic acid treatment in conjunction with them. It is also recommended to correct your beneficial vaginal flora (lactobacilli) during or after finishing your antibiotic treatment by using a probiotic that will also stimulate the growth of your good bacteria.