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Bacterial vaginosis 101: All you need to know about this condition

Your vagina naturally creates bacteria, which can be both good or bad for you. Some kinds of bacteria cause infections including bacterial vaginosis, which if left untreated, can lead to a range of complications.
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You're not alone in this. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Aayushi Gupta Published: 29 May 2021, 11:35 am IST
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Having a vagina comes with a range of complications. Yes, it’s true — it is easy to  develop itchiness, odour, discharge plus bacteria. When there’s trouble in the vagina, it is important to pay attention to the signs, so that you can get the right treatment at the right time. 

One of the most common bacterial infections in women is known as bacterial vaginosis (BV). According to the Office on Women’s Health, bacterial vaginosis is a condition that occurs based on changes in the organ’s bacteria levels. 

Here’s what is bacterial vaginosis:

Your vagina has different kinds of bacteria, both good (lactobacilli) and bad (anaerobes). Good bacteria keeps the genital area healthy and clean. But in case of bacterial vaginosis, the healthy bacteria is replaced by the bad bacteria, and this causes an imbalance in your vaginal environment. Let’s just say it is more common than you think. 

Here’s why you might be at a high risk of getting bacterial vaginosis:

Well, anyone with a vagina can get bacterial vaginosis. But you are at a higher risk of this infection, if: 

  • You’re sexually active;
  • Don’t use condoms or protection;
  • If you’re pregnant;
  • Engage in douching;
  • Or have an intrauterine device (IUD).
bacterial vaginosis
Your vagina gives hints very now and then, about the state of your vaginal health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Look out for these symptoms of bacterial vaginosis:

Most people with bacterial vaginosis don’t have symptoms. But when women do, here they are:

  • Burning sensation when you pee
  • Experiencing thin, watery vaginal discharge
  • Feeling itching and pain or sometimes soreness around the genital region
  • Having a strong and unpleasant smell, often described as fishy
  • Grey or white discharge

The symptoms like bacterial vaginosis might be like other vaginal infections, although the strong-smelling vaginal discharge is one of the biggest signs. Besides, whenever you experience sudden changes in your vagina, and believe you have developed bacterial vaginosis, consult your gynecologist.

Here’s how you can prevent bacterial vaginosis

To lower your risk of bacterial vaginosis, you need to take these steps;

  • Avoid douching because it changes the natural balance of bacteria in your vagina. This may raise the risk of bacterial vaginosis;
  • Keep your vagina clean, you can use warm water to clean the outside of your vagina. Don’t use soap, and keep the area cool;
  • Increase the intake of probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, buttermilk, or cottage cheese;
  • Use condoms or dental dams for safe intercourse. (Not just your partner, but you as well);
  • Wear cotton underwear;
  • Clean sex toys after every use. 
bacterial vaginosis
Vulvar and vaginal care is important. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Here are some complications that can be caused by bacterial vaginosis:

If bacterial vaginosis is untreated, it possibly can lead to complications. These may include:

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  • Early or preterm delivery or low birth weight of a baby;
  • In fact, it can increase the chances of miscarriage;
  • Having bacterial vaginosis makes women more susceptible to STI (sexually transmitted infection) such as HIV, herpes, or gonorrhea;
  • It can sometimes cause PID (pelvic inflammatory disease), and infection of the uterus that increases the risk of infertility.

So stop avoiding your vaginal health and whenever you feel something is wrong with your vagina, immediately consult a gynecologist.

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About the Author

Aayushi Gupta is a health writer with a special interest in trends related to diet, fitness, beauty and intimate health. With around 2 years of experience in the wellness industry, she is connected to leading experts and doctors to provide our readers with factually correct information. ...Read More

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