By taking good care of your vaginal health, avoiding wearing tight underwear, taking probiotics, and other measures, you can prevent bacterial vaginosis. If you’ve previously received treatment, these techniques can also aid in preventing recurrence.
The common vaginal infection known as bacterial vaginosis. Symptoms of vaginal overgrowth of specific types of bacteria can include discharge, odor, and discomfort. But frequently, it has no symptoms at all.
This article will examine in greater detail how you can lessen your risk of developing bacterial vaginosis or stop it from recurring if you already have.
What is Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)?
The bacterial population of the vagina is impacted by bacterial vaginosis (BV). It occurs when the balance of healthy bacteria in the vagina is upset by more harmful bacteria, such as Gardnerella vaginalis.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), BV affects up to 50 percentTrusted Source of women in their reproductive years. Other sources suggest that as many as 70 percentTrusted Source of women are affected.
Although it is not contagious, those who engage in sexual activity are more likely to contract it. Rarely do individuals with vaginal tissue and no history of sex develop BV.
Although the precise cause of BV is unclear, experts think that sex plays a role in the disease.
Sex without protection, sex with a new partner, and multiple partners all have the potential to change the balance of bacteria in the vagina. You may develop BV as a result of additional behaviors, like douching.
Pregnant women frequently experience BV as well. The hormonal changes brought on by pregnancy in this case are probably what cause BV.
A yeast infection is not the same as BV. Although the symptoms of the two infections can be similar, their underlying causes are different. While BV is brought on by a bacterial overgrowth, yeast infections are brought on by a fungus overgrowth.
Without any symptoms at all, BV is possible. Between 50 and 75 percent of women with BV don’t exhibit symptoms, according to the Center for Young Women’s Health.
If symptoms occur, they can include:
- Burning during urination
- Itchiness, irritation, or pain around the vaginal opening
- White, or gray vaginal discharge, sometimes with a fishy odor
PID and STIs like HIV are both sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that are made more likely to be contracted if you have BV. Among other complications, BV during pregnancy can cause preterm labor.
If you experience any BV symptoms, make a consultation appointment with your doctor. A physical exam and a vaginal fluid test are required to determine the diagnosis of this condition.
How to Stop Recurring BV Infections Forever?
It’s possible that an infection won’t be able to be completely avoided. However, there are some ways to reduce your risk of BV. Here are a few tips to help prevent BV:
Even though you can’t completely eliminate stress from your life, learning how to manage it could help you avoid developing BV again.
Cortisol, a stress hormone, may have an impact on the condition of the vagina. Increased levels of glycogen (sugar) in vaginal tissue are linked to cortisol, which may raise the possibility of bacterial overgrowth.
The good strains of bacteria, like Lactobacillus, are essential for maintaining a healthy vaginal flora and preventing infections. Multiple research studies have shown probiotics (strains of “friendly” bacteria normally found in the body) help reduce the risk of recurring BV.4
You can try a vaginal probiotic suppository or take probiotic supplements orally. Both oral and vaginal probiotics appear to reduce the risk of bacterial vaginosis.4
A healthy diet that includes some probiotic foods helps to maintain a balance of good and bad bacteria. Foods that are fermented contain probiotics, such as:
Practice Vaginal Hygiene
You don’t have to put much effort into maintaining a clean vaginal area, but doing so can help reduce your risk of infection3. Warm water and possibly a mild, unscented soap applied to the genital area are typically all that are required. The vagina shouldn’t be cleaned with soap.
A few other recommendations for good vaginal hygiene include:
- Avoid douching.
- Avoid using harsh or scented vaginal soaps or wipes when washing.
- Tampons, liners, and pads should all be replaced regularly.
- Once you’ve finished using the restroom, wipe from front to back.
Wear Breathable Underwear and Loose Clothing
The fabric of your underwear may have an effect on the condition of your vagina.
Temperature, moisture, and pH may rise when wearing constrictive clothing and impermeable materials close to the vagina. This can change the environment of the vagina, make it easier for bacteria to overgrow, and cause an infection.3
Try to wear silk or cotton underwear that fits loosely. Also, make an effort to wear tight-fitting clothing less frequently.
Inappropriate pregnancy is not the only thing that can be avoided by using condoms during sexual activity. Additionally, it aids in preventing changes in vaginal flora and STIs (sexually transmitted infections).
A 2013 study found that the consistent use of condoms was associated with higher levels of Lactobacillus.5 This suggests that using condoms guards the balance of beneficial bacteria and may reduce the risk of bacterial vaginosis.
Boric Acid Suppositories
Suppositories containing boric acid may help maintain a healthy pH balance in the vagina. Some research shows using these suppositories may help treat and prevent recurrent BV and yeast infections.7
Suppositories containing boric acid are sold over the counter. Follow the directions and make sure to read the label. Using the product beyond what is advised is not advised. If you have an open vaginal sore, stay away from using it. Ensure that you have a conversation with your doctor before beginning to use boric acid supplements.
Never consume boric acid. It can be toxic if taken by mouth.8
Following the use of a boric acid suppository, stop using it right away and call your doctor if you experience any burning, irritation, redness, rash, or unusual discharge.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
- What is my bacterial vaginosis’ most likely cause?
- Do I need to get checked for any tests, like those for STDs?
- How do my test results translate?
- What kind of medical procedure do you suggest?
- Do I need medicine and how do I take it?
- When can I anticipate symptom relief?
- Is having sex safe for me?
A typical infection called bacterial vaginosis most frequently affects women with vagina who engage in sexual activity. It doesn’t always result in symptoms. A discharge with a fishy odor, as well as itching and irritation in the vagina, may be symptoms when they do occur. If you experience BV symptoms, follow up with your healthcare provider right away.
How is Bacterial Vaginosis Diagnosed?
A cotton swab sample of the discharge will be taken by your doctor while they examine your vagina. Your anaerobe bacterial load will be evaluated using this sample.
How Long Does It Take for BV to Go Away on Its Own?
Bacterial vaginosis may in some cases go away on its own in a matter of days. But in order to get rid of the infection, it frequently needs to be treated, and untreated BV can have negative effects on one’s health. If you suspect an infection, it’s best to discuss treatment options with your healthcare provider.