Research shows that nearly 30% of women in the US has bacterial vaginosis. However, most don’t have symptoms, while some mistake the symptoms for another vaginal infection like yeast.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common vaginal infection caused by a type of germ or bacteria. Typically, the vagina contains many “good” bacteria known as lactobacilli which help to regulate the number of other bacteria known as anaerobes. Many anaerobes might cause bacterial vaginosis. However, it is not clear why the anaerobes overgrow to cause this infection.
A fishy odor or foul smell from the vagina is one of the common symptoms of bacterial vaginosis. In addition, some women might experience burning, itching, or a grey discharge.
Causes of Bacterial Vaginosis
BV is an overgrowth of anaerobe bacteria in the vagina. Scientists don’t know exactly why it happens. Nevertheless, things like douching might expose you to a high risk of bacterial vaginosis. While this infection is not sexually transmitted, having many engaging in sexual intercourse with several partners or a new partner will increase the risks. The physician will examine the vagina and collect the sample of the grey discharge using a cotton swab. They will test the sample to determine if you have a lot of anaerobe bacteria.
How to deal with Bacterial Vaginosis
- Know When to Consult a Doctor
Your vagina hosts a complex colony of organisms that maintain the vaginal chemical pH and its health. When the vaginal bacteria or pH change, the vagina becomes vulnerable to injections like bacterial vaginosis. Since the infection rarely causes severe symptoms, some women can try home remedies to treat the condition. However, the infection can warrant immediate medical attention if:
- You are pregnant
- There are some other symptoms like a burning sensation while urinating
- You have a fever
- You experience itching or intense burning
- Use Safe Hygiene Practices
Since bacterial vaginosis causes a fishy smell, most women think it’s because of poor hygiene. That’s not true. A vagina has a self-cleaning mechanism that doesn’t require perfumes, soaps, and douches. Those items will affect the vaginal pH, actually leading to a greater risk of bacterial vaginosis.
Here is how to reduce the risk of having the infection:
- Don’t use any scented items on your vagina
- Don’t douche, this may increase the risk of BV
- Use water only to wash the vagina
- Wear breathable cotton underwear
- Wash your hands before you touch the vagina
- Try a Probiotic
Probiotics help your body grow the “good” bacteria that fight harmful fungi and bacteria. Natural probiotics will support the growth of bacterial colonies that maintain the vagina health. They include yogurt, cottage cheese, and fermented foods.
A probiotic supplement might help as well. If you are experiencing discomfort and pain due to bacterial vaginosis, you can try probiotic tampons. Freeze unflavored plain yogurt in the tampon applicator and insert it into your vagina. That cooling sensation will alleviate the pain for a while, and the probiotic might fight the infection.
- Try Alternative Remedies
You can try using other products like apple cider vinegar, garlic, or boric acid to fight the infection. These products might help in balancing the vaginal pH.
Treatment of Bacterial Vaginosis
Your doctor can treat bacterial vaginosis in different ways. For example, they might prescribe medicines for you to swallow or a gel or cream to put in your vagina. It is essential to use the medication as prescribed by the doctor.
If your physician prescribes metronidazole or other drugs, you must avoid alcohol. Mixing alcohol with the drugs will cause vomiting and nausea. Even a small quantity of alcohol in most cough syrups might cause vomiting and nausea if you are taking this drug. Remember to tell your doctors the other medicines you are taking.
If the BV infection is not handled on time, the bacteria might spread to the fallopian tubes or uterus and cause serious infections. So, treating bacterial vaginosis will lower this risk. Note that treatment is vital for pregnant women.