What is bacterial vaginosis?
Bacterial Vaginosis is a common infection that affects many women at some point in their lifetime. It occurs when the bacterial balance in your vagina changes, which can be caused by any number of factors. The vagina naturally has an acidic pH and the balance of various harmless bacteria is pretty delicate, which is why BV is so common.
The infection is not dangerous and some women even have it without realising because they may not experience any noticeable symptoms. In time the infection goes away by itself, however many women do experience symptoms and therefore decide to treat the infection with medication. Symptoms can include vaginal discharge which is white or grey in colour, usually thin and watery in consistency, and often foul-smelling. Unlike with Thrush or other infections, BV does not usually produce itching, pain or soreness of the vagina.
Bacterial Vaginosis is not a sexually transmitted infection (as men can’t contract it and therefore can’t pass it on), however sex (especially with multiple partners) can trigger the infection, as it can mess with your vaginal bacteria balance. It’s important to practise safe sex, as BV can make you more vulnerable to STI’s such as HIV, chlamydia and herpes.
The condition is mostly harmless, and many women don’t even notice having it (before it eventually goes away on its own). However, you are best to seek medical advice for any changes in your vaginal health, as BV can cause pelvic inflammatory disease when left untreated. PID produces pelvic pain, bleeding between periods and swelling in the genital tract so if symptoms of BV worsen, then you may need to seek treatment for PID.
What causes Bacterial Vaginosis?
There is no precise cause of BV and instead, it can be triggered by a number of factors. One of the main ones is sexual intercourse, especially regular sex or sex with multiple different partners. This does not mean that it is sexually transmitted, just that sexual intercourse can mess with the bacteria balance in the vagina.
Another trigger can be any foreign object that’s inserted into the vagina, including sex toys, the IUD contraceptive device, and tampons. Smoking has also been shown to disrupt the natural bacteria balance.
Personal hygiene and cleaning can also contribute heavily to BV. In order to avoid developing Bacterial Vaginosis, women should take care when wiping after going to the toilet (front to back), wear light fabrics such as cotton and change their underwear regularly. On the other hand, “overwashing” can also cause BV; using strong or heavily perfumed products to clean the vagina (also known as douching). The vagina naturally cleans itself so water and a little mild soap is sufficient in achieving good vaginal health.
How do I treat bacterial vaginosis?
Bacterial Vaginosis is easily treatable with a short course of antibiotics, specifically Metronidazole, which is available to buy safely and discreetly at Cloud Pharmact. You can also treat BV with a single-dose antibiotic or a gel, but the short course is preferred as there are fewer side effects and it’s much harder to administer a dose wrong than with the gel.
Once the infection has cleared, there are a number of things you can do to prevent BV from coming back again. You should avoid synthetic materials, whether that be fabrics or cleaning products. Try to stick to loose cotton clothing, gentle washing detergents and natural products to wash your body and vagina with. To avoid Bacterial Vaginosis, avoid excessive vaginal cleaning (as it cleans itself), maintain good hygiene and always practise safe sex.