Bacterial vaginosis

    • Brief

    • Bacterial vaginosis is an infection that affects your vagina. It occurs when unhealthy bacteria outgrow the healthy bacteria in your vagina, causing an imbalance, discomfort and disease. It usually goes away on its own, however, sometimes you may need medicines to make it go away.

      Treatment for bacterial vaginosis may require the use of antimicrobial cream or pills prescribed by your healthcare provider. You may be asked to take a test to confirm that the medicine is right for your condition.

    • What are the symptoms?

    • You may have bacterial vaginosis without knowing it. This is because it does not always come with symptoms. However, you may notice any of the following if you have bacterial vaginosis:

      • Abnormal vaginal discharge. You may notice a grey-coloured vaginal discharge instead of the white or egg-white (depending on your menstrual cycle) type of vaginal discharge.
      • Abnormal vaginal odour. Your vagina has its natural odour. However, when it smells like fish, it is not normal and can be a sign of bacterial vaginosis.
      • Burning or itching in your vagina. This is not a very common symptom of bacterial vaginosis, but you may notice this.
    • What are the causes?

    • Your vagina has its natural mix of bacteria, which grow in balanced amounts. However, whenever there is a change in the acid levels of your vagina, the bad bacteria may grow more than the good bacteria. The main cause of this change is not yet known, but when it happens, it can lead to bacterial vaginosis.

    • What are the things that put you at risk?

    • Several things can alter the acid levels of your vagina, thereby increasing your risk of bacterial vaginosis. They include:

      • More than one sexual partner. Having more than one sexual partner or changing your sexual partner can increase your chances of changing the acid balance of your vagina. 
      • Incorrect vaginal hygiene habits, such as washing the inside of your vagina with soap or flushing it out with water can kill the good bacteria in your vagina.
      • Using vaginal hygiene products such as yoni pearls, vaginal perfumes or wash can irritate your vagina. It can also kill the good bacteria in your vagina.
      • Sexually transmitted diseases. Sexually transmitted diseases can change the acid and bacteria balance in your vagina. It also increases the chances of the bad bacteria in your vagina growing more than the good ones.
    • When to visit a doctor?

    • Bacterial vaginosis will usually go away on its own, but its symptoms may also be similar to a more serious disease. If you notice any of the following, you need to see your healthcare provider immediately;

      • If you notice a change in the colour of your vaginal discharge. Your vaginal discharge may go from the usual white or egg-white look to yellow, green, grey or bloody. This is not normal and may be a sign of an infection.
      • Feeling pain while peeing or when you are having sexual intercourse.
      • If you feel pain in the lower parts of your belly (abdomen) or notice irregularities with your menstrual periods.
      • If you have more than one sexual partner or have a sexual partner that has a sexually transmitted disease.
    • How to prevent?

    • The following are some tips to help prevent bacterial vaginosis:

      • Maintaining good vaginal hygiene such as cleaning your vagina with water, wiping your genitals from front to back and avoiding heavily perfumed products in your vagina can prevent bacterial vaginosis. This is because good vaginal hygiene helps to maintain your vaginal acid and bacterial balance.
      • Practice safe sex. Avoiding multiple sexual partners or using latex condoms can decrease your chances of having sexually transmitted diseases. This, in turn, reduces your chances of having bacterial vaginosis.
      • Eating a balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables will help your body fight off infections better. You may also add yoghurts to your diet to help increase the number of good bacteria in your vagina.
    • How to manage and treat?

    • Self-care tips

      If you have bacterial vaginosis, the following are some tips you can follow to relieve your symptoms:

      • Wear cotton underwear as this can help reduce the irritation in your vagina and reduce itching. You may also decide not to wear any underwear to bed to allow your vagina to breathe. 
      • Avoid vaginal hygiene products and soaps. Using these products can irritate your vagina and affect its acid balance. Instead, clean your vagina with water.  You may be tempted to wash or flush your vagina aggressively because of the odour. Doing so is not helpful at all. Instead, gently rinse your vagina with clean water.

      Treatment options

      Although bacterial vaginosis does not always require treatment, you may be requested to be examined and get some tests. After examining you, your healthcare provider may recommend vaginal cream or some pills to treat your condition.

    • Kulawa cares

    • Bacterial vaginosis is not a life-threatening condition, but when left untreated it can increase your risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. It can also be embarrassing when it causes itching, odour and can affect your self-esteem. You can reduce your risk by maintaining good vaginal hygiene.