According to the data shared by the Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), bacterial vaginosis affects more than 30% of women. Yet 84% of them don’t report the symptoms of this very-common vaginal infection. You can blame it on the taboo around vaginal health or simply on the unawareness of this condition. However, it’s about time we break the stigma and talk about it so that none of us has to suffer in silence. Scroll down for everything you need to know about bacterial vaginosis:
What Is Bacterial Vaginosis?
Bacterial vaginosis, aka BV, is a bacterial infection of the vagina. It happens when the different kinds of healthy bacteria that are naturally present in your vajayjay get out of balance or grow too much. An imbalance of Gardnerella vaginalis, the most common type of bacteria present in the vagina, can flare up BV. Usually, this is triggered by changes in the chemistry of your vagina’s pH balance that ultimately messes with the bacterial balance.
Bacterial Vaginosis: Causes
While experts still haven’t been able to identify the exact causes of bacterial vaginosis, there are certain activities and triggers that can lead to it. Let’s take a look at them:
Introducing a stream of water into the vagina to “cleanse it” may sound like a great intimate-hygiene practice. But guess what? It can disturb the natural pH balance of your vagina, wash away the healthy bacteria, and ultimately trigger BV!
Poor Intimate Hygiene
While it is best to leave your self-cleansing vagina alone, the same cannot be said about the areas surrounding it. Your vulva, pubic mound, and groin cannot cleanse themselves. The buildup of dust, dirt, and sweat in these areas can lead to infections and germ transfer to the vagina. Additionally, poor intimate hygiene practices like using a dirty menstrual cup, leaving the intimate area moist or wiping your intimate region from back to front (it can lead to the transfer of bacteria from the anus to the vagina) can cause BV.
Using Harsh Products For Your Intimate Area
Using chemical-laden and scented products like vaginal perfumes, soaps or mists can disturb the natural pH balance of the vagina and lead to itching, irritation, and BV.
Poor Sexual Hygiene
Even though BV is not a sexually transmitted infection, having sex with a new partner, or multiple partners may increase the risk of bacterial vaginosis. This can particularly happen if your partner’s natural genital chemistry or poor intimate hygiene changes the balance in your vagina and causes bacteria to grow.
Symptoms Of Bacterial Vaginosis
According to the CDC, bacterial vaginosis is more prevalent in sexually active women between the age of 15-44. It doesn’t always have symptoms. Sometimes it may affect you and you won’t even know you’ve got it. However, it’s not necessarily always that silent. Here are some symptoms of bacterial vaginosis to look out for:
-Lots of white, dull grey, greenish, and/or foamy vaginal discharge.
-The discharge is often accompanied by a fishy odour that may become stronger post-sex.
-Itching or burning sensation while peeing.
-Vaginal irritation or discomfort.
-Pain during or after sexual intercourse.
Yeast Infection Vs Bacterial Vaginosis: How To Differentiate
Bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections are both common forms of vaginitis with similar symptoms like vaginal itching and irritation. While both conditions are usually mild and easily treatable, here are a few distinguishing points between them:
-Discharge from a yeast infection is usually thick, white, and cottage-cheese like while BV discharge is thin, yellow or grey in colour.
-Vaginal discharge in case of a yeast infection is usually odourless while BV discharge has a strong, fishy odour.
-While BV may cause slight vaginal irritation, itching, and pain during urination or sex, yeast infection can lead to pain and swelling around the vaginal opening and pain soreness, and itching of the vulva.
P.S. It is possible to have both these conditions at the same time. So it is best to consult with your gynae and go for the recommended line of treatment.
Bacterial Vaginosis: Prevention
Since there are no definite causes of bacterial vaginosis, the best way to keep it at bay is to follow adequate preventive measures. Here are the five best things to do:
Steer Clear Of Vagina-Disturbing Practices
As mentioned earlier, douching can do more harm than good. So it is best to leave your vajayjay alone and let it clean itself. Additionally, you’ve got to stop using harsh or scented soaps, perfumes, and mists on your vag. They may come with the promise of making it smell like a bunch of roses. But they can irritate your sensitive V and leave you with an infection to deal with.
Wash Your Intimate Area
While leaving your self-cleansing vagina can be your best bet, you’ve got to take cleansing matters for the surrounding areas into your own hands. Wash your vulva, groin, and pubic mound with mild soap or a natural intimate wash once or twice a day to remove the dust, dirt, and sweat buildup. This won’t just keep any skin infection in these areas at bay, it’ll also prevent germ transfer into the vagina.
Keep Your Intimate Area Fresh
Moisture from sweat or after washing the intimate area can lead to bacterial or fungal growth down there. That’s why it’s important to keep it fresh by wiping it with a clean cotton cloth. P.S.Always wipe from front to back to prevent anal bacteria from infecting your vagina.
Use Clean Sanitary Products
If you’re a menstrual cup user, it’s important to sterilise and store it after each cycle and before using it on the first day of your period. Additionally, it’s important to wash your hands before and after inserting the cup or a tampon or while changing your sanitary pad. Lastly, steer clear of using scented pads or tampons and stick to the ones made with organic cotton.
Wear Comfy Clothes At Night
When at home, always go for a comfy pair of cotton undies and breathable cotton pyjamas. Better still, go commando and let your vajayjay breathe.
Have Sex Responsibly
Always use a condom while having sex–especially with a new partner. Don’t forget to wash your intimate area or at least wipe yourself after having sex to prevent bacterial growth and infections. Last but not the least, always wash your hands and your sex toys before pleasuring yourself.
Bacterial Vaginosis Treatment
A mild case of bacterial vaginosis usually passes off without troubling you too much. However, if it doesn’t heal itself and you notice clear symptoms, it’s best to visit your gynae and get the proper medication to treat it.
Sirona Recommends Best Intimate Washes
Apple Cider Vinegar Foaming Intimate Wash By Sirona
This intimate wash contains apple cider vinegar to help maintain the acidic pH of your intimate area. It also has other natural ingredients like aloe vera and sea buckthorn oil to moisturise the genital skin while cleansing it thoroughly.
Sirona’s Refreshing Intimate Wash
Packed with the goodness of natural ingredients like Tasmanian pepper fruit, this intimate wash keeps your intimate area clean and fresh all day long. Thanks to its unique Eco-certified technology, it does a great job at removing dust and sweat build-up without disturbing your genital skin’s natural acidic mantle. The result? A squeaky-clean and nourished V-zone.
Folks, you won’t have to worry about getting bacterial vaginosis if you follow these prevention steps and have these products in your kitty. However, if you do notice any symptoms, contact your doc immediately.
Featured Image: Pexels
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Intimate Hygiene: 6 Tips To Maintain Good Intimate Health: Here’s how to maintain a strong intimate-hygiene game and keep infections down there at bay.
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