Your vagina has a delicate balance of many types of bacteria and BV happens when certain kinds overpower the beneficial ones that keep their levels in check.
Although vaginal fitness is something barely spoken about, it is extremely important not only for your sexual health but also for your overall wellbeing. Now there are various kinds of bacteria that exist in your vagina and the body works to maintain a healthy balance to prevent any unusual growth. However, if and when the balance is disrupted it results in a condition called bacteria vaginosis (BV). While it's a very common cause of vaginal infection in women, it does increase the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs), if ignored.
Like we mentioned earlier your vagina has a delicate balance of many types of bacteria and BV happens when certain kinds overpower the beneficial ones that keep their levels in check. There are some activities that can increase your risk of developing this infection but the exact cause remains unknown. According to Medical News Today, the condition frequently happens after you have unprotected sexual intercourse with a new partner or if you frequently douche. Women who are in their productive years are most likely to get bacterial vaginosis. But Mayo Clinic says that it can affect women of any age but note that those who aren't active sexually hardly experience it.
You may experience abnormal vaginal discharge which may be:
1. Watery and thin
2. Off-white, grey, or greenish in color
3. Strong, unpleasant, almost fishy smell
Although it's not that common you may also feel a burning sensation while peeing and experience itching around the outside of the vagina. It's possible that you may not even experience any symptoms like 50-75% of women with BV.
Few cases of BV clear up by themselves but those that don't require prescription antibiotics like clindamycin and metronidazole, according to Healthline. Complete the course of medication as prescribed by your doctor even if the symptoms seem to clear up instantly. There are a few things you can do to help cure the condition like consuming probiotic-containing foods like yogurt, keeping your vagina hygienic, using unscented soaps and tampons, and wearing loose clothes and cotton underwear that are breathable.
You usually have to wait until your vagina restores its bacteria balance and clear the BV either by itself or with the help of medication. If it doesn't get proper treatment, you are at a greater risk o contracting STIs like chlamydia, HIV, and gonorrhea. If you're pregnant, it can also result in early delivery. If left untreated, your risk of developing pelvic inflammatory disease increases greatly. It is a condition that affects fertility and risks premature delivery in pregnant women, according to the Center for Young Women’s Health. The chance of post-surgical infections increases significantly.
You cannot usually transfer BV to someone who has a penis. However, vulva-to-vulva transmission is a definite possibility if someone with a vagina shares sex toys or penetrates using fingers. If your partner has a vagina, it's a good idea to speak to a healthcare provider to seek treatment for the condition.
Although you cannot always prevent bacterial vaginosis, there are a few practices that can help reduce the risk.
1. While engaging in sexual activities use protection like condoms and dental dams. The use of barriers stops the interaction between semen and vaginal discharge which in turn reduces the risk of getting BV.
2. Let your vagina be the way it is. Avoid using scented products on your vulva or in your vagina or douching it. These things can easily disrupt the vaginal pH and make you more vulnerable to BV.
Remember if you've had BV in the past, there's a high chance that you will get it again. 50% of the women who have had BV said that they got the condition again within a year of treatment, according to the Center for Young Women’s Health.
It's best to consult your healthcare provider if you have recurrent bouts of the condition.
Representative cover source image: Getty | Photo by KATERYNA KON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARYDisclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.