Women deal with so much already. Their reproductive system makes them go through things like childbirth, periods, and more. So, when something unpredictable occurs concerning that region, it is normal to think, ‘Can I catch a break?’ After all, it is never a good sign when your vagina starts doing things it has never done before. Especially if it involves uncomfortable itching and rashes. No doubt, it is necessary for vaginas to have an almost perfect balance of bacteria to function properly. However, when that balance experiences a disruption, there are many possibilities of vaginal diseases. One of the most prevalent health conditions that occur due to an imbalance in bacteria is bacterial vaginosis.
Bacterial vaginosis is known as a mild infection of the vagina that can go away in a matter of a few days with the proper treatment, of course. However, if left untreated, it can put a person at risk for some more serious infections.
One needs to be aware of the basics of bacterial vaginosis in order to help recognise it as quickly as possible while knowing the possible treatment options for it.
How is Bacterial Vaginosis Caused?
First, one needs to understand how the infection is caused. Remember that bacterial vaginosis can spread in a number of ways; however, the real cause of the infection is simply when an imbalance between the naturally found “good” and “bad” bacteria in your vagina occurs. With that being said, when your vagina’s bacterial levels are balanced, the harmful bacteria are countered by the good bacteria. Similarly, when the vagina comprises more bad bacteria than good, the vagina becomes incapable of defending the area from harmful bacteria. This means that the vagina’s bacteria do not remain balanced anymore. This results in bacterial vaginosis.
Although doctors are not yet entirely aware of how sex impacts bacterial vaginosis, it has been observed that it is much more common when a person is sexually active. In addition to this, a person is more likely to get the infection when they have a new sexual partner or even multiple partners.
However, there is a critical aspect of the infection to remember: bacterial vaginosis is not a sexually transmitted infection. If you struggle with bacterial vaginosis, you are more at risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI). In order to reduce the risk of getting an STI, you should see a doctor right away and never forget to use protection during sex. Furthermore, there is a misconception surrounding bacterial vaginosis, and it is critical to clear it up; no, one can not get the infection through toilet seats or even a swimming pool.
What are the Signs of Bacterial Vaginosis?
It is necessary to remember that it can be impossible to detect the signs of bacterial vaginosis because people rarely show physical symptoms of the infection. In rare cases, there are a few symptoms that occur, and they might include:
- White or grey thin vaginal discharge
- A strong odour (especially a fish-like scent, more noticeable after sex)
- Unbearable pain
- Uncomfortable itching
- A burning sensation
Now, although most of these signs usually point to a case of bacterial vaginosis, they can sometimes also be indicative of a sexually transmitted disease. Due to this overlap in symptoms, it is important to have pap smears and STI tests performed regularly. It is vital to take care of your reproductive system’s health and to make sure everything is functioning like it is supposed to.
Can I Reduce the Risk of Getting Bacterial Vaginosis?
As of right now, there is not enough research to fully comprehend the reasoning behind the imbalance of the bacteria in the vagina. However, professionals have shared a few tips to reduce the chances of bacterial vaginosis, and they are:
- Avoid Smoking Cigarettes - Since smoking is a known anti-estrogenic, it can be the leading cause of your hormones being out of balance. This results in an increase in the risk of contracting bacterial vaginosis.
- Never Use a Douche - Vaginas are self-cleaning, and using douches can throw your pH levels out of balance, leading to bacterial vaginosis.
- Limit the Amount of Sexual Partners - Monogamous people are less likely to get bacterial vaginosis.
- Use Protection and Get Tested Regularly - Avoid having unprotected sexual intercourse and get tested for STIs every 6 months.
What Are My Treatment Options for Bacterial Vaginosis?
Avoid self-diagnosing when it comes to the health of your reproductive system. Often, people assume that they have bacterial vaginosis, but it turns out to be a sexually transmitted disease. Do not take a chance on infections. Once officially diagnosed, your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic like Metronidazole. The infection will go away in a few days.
What Happens If I Leave Bacterial Vaginosis Untreated?
In particular cases, bacterial vaginosis can go away on its own. However, taking such a risk can result in serious consequences, including:
- An increase in the risk of contracting HIV
- Delivering a child that is underweight (if you have bacterial vaginosis while you are pregnant)
- An increased risk of contracting an STI like chlamydia or gonorrhoea, or even Pelvic Inflammatory Disease