Bacterial Vaginosis - What Every Woman Should Know

Published: 03rd August 2009
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For some women bacterial vaginosis is not normally a serious condition but for others who get repeated attacks it can cause lasting psychological and emotional damage, according to registered nurse, midwife and author Lauretta Forday.

"Up to 50 per cent of women worldwide have had bacterial vaginosis at least once. Yet the condition is not widely known and is often misunderstood by the medical profession," she said. "Bacterial vaginosis is not caused by a particular organism but by a change in the balance of normal vaginal bacteria or a change in the PH balance.

"BV is created by an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the vagina due to the depletion of lactobacillus. The vagina normally contains a lot of good bacteria called lactobacilli and some other bacteria called anaerobes. Too many anaerobes can cause this imbalance."

She said in the USA, 16 per cent of pregnant women have bacterial vaginosis which is also called Gardenerella-associated vaginitis or non specific vaginitis .

"It is one of the most common causes of vaginitis symptoms among childbearing women particularly those who are sexually active. "

The signs and symptoms of bacterial vaginosis were:

• Excessive, thin gray or white vaginal discharge that sticks to the vaginal walls. • Fishy or musty, unpleasant vaginal odor, most noticeable after sex. • Itching and irritation around the vagina. • Burning sensation during urination.

Ways to help prevent bacterial vaginosis included:

• Avoid douching because it disrupts the balance of the vagina's natural organisms. Douching may lead to infection and may also cause the infection to spread up to the reproductive tract. Most douches also contain hydrogen low concentration (PH) which deviates from the normal level, making you prone to more bacterial vaginosis. • Keep the vaginal area dry and clean. Wash vaginal area with clean water and dry thoroughly before and after sex. • Avoid tight fitting jeans. Wear panties that fit well and are made of breathable cotton. The material should be able to absorb moisture and allow air to circulate. Nylon underwear and tights do not absorb moisture. Wear loose fitting trousers and try to avoid wearing nylon pants and tights under tight trousers, especially at night. If possible, especially at night, wear no panties at all and let your vagina breathe. • Always wipe from front to back after bowel movements to prevent Escherichia colic entering the vagina (Wipe from Vaginal to anus). • Avoid scented toilet paper, deodorant tampons and other perfumed personal hygiene products. • Bathing in perfumed water or bubble baths also cause damage by irritating the vaginal area. Soaps, bubble baths all can cause irritation to the vagina. Pour cold water over the perineum. It also helps to prevent urinary infections by washing away germs before they reach the urethra. • Change tampons or pads frequently. • Loss excess weight- it makes itching worse. • Avoid using biological washing powder. Washing powder contains harsh chemicals which can irritate your vagina. • Avoid vaginal deodorants as they can irritate the mucous membranes. They can make your vagina dry and itchy and can cause allergic reaction. • Intra-uterine device or IUD for short can put you at increased risk of vaginal or uterine infections. If you are prone to repeated attacks of bacterial vaginosis and you have one fitted, talk to your doctor about other methods of contraception. • Try cool cabbage leaves to ease the discomfort of burning and itching. Cabbage leaves are used to treat sore nipples and mastitis. Cabbage leaves can be placed on top of a maxi pad to treat vaginitis. You can experience complete relief from burning and itching within a couple of hours. • Boost your immunity with foods rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C and E, zinc and selenium. Cut down your alcohol intake. An immune system that is weakened by poor nutrition and too much stress does not have a fighting chance of getting back to good health.

James Larkin is a veteran newspaper journalist who has worked in Britain, Europe, Asia and Australia covering a wide range of subjects. More BV info on his website

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