Did you know that acidity is good for your vaginal health? The pH of the vagina is normally between 3.5 to 4.5, which are close to that of wine. Infections like yeast and bacterial vaginosis can be caused by an imbalance in the vaginal environment.
Vaginal infections can be painful and inconvenient. They may cause problems that have a negative impact on a person’s health if not treated. Most vaginal infections, on the other hand, can be treated or managed.
When It Comes To A Vaginal Infection, What Should I Check For?
Some vaginal infections cause no symptoms at all. If you do get symptoms, the following are the most common:
- Vaginal itchiness
- A change in the quantity of vaginal discharge
- Colour changes of discharge from your vagina
- Discomfort or burning sensation while urinating
- Painful sexual intercourse
- Spotting or vaginal bleeding
The symptoms of vaginal infections also differ depending on the cause of the infection:
- Bacterial infections usually result in a yellowish or greyish-white discharge. This discharge may have a fishy odour that is noticeable immediately after sex.
- Itching is a common symptom of yeast infections. If there is a discharge, it may be thick and white, resembling cottage cheese.
- Trichomoniasis is a pathogenic infection that causes irritation and odour in the vaginal area. This infection causes a greenish-yellow discharge that can be foamy.
What Contributes to Vaginal Infections?
Lactobacilli, or “good” bacteria found in the vagina keep the pH levels at a slightly acidic level to prevent infection-causing bacteria from growing. When the levels exceed 4.5, the vaginal area creates an excellent breeding ground for pathogens like yeast infections and bacterial vaginosis.
Here are some things that could make your vagina more alkaline:
- Menstruation: since menstrual blood is alkaline, it tends to neutralize acidity in the vaginal region. This is also why, after their period, many women experience a flare-up of vaginal infection.
- Semen: when your partner ejaculates inside your vagina without using a condom, the semen makes the atmosphere in your vaginal area more alkaline, which encourages the growth of fungus and bacteria, leading to infections.
What Causes Vaginal Infections?
Vaginal infections can be caused by a variety of factors. If you do get an infection, your doctor will figure out what’s causing it and treat it accordingly.
Among the common causes of vaginal infections include:
- Bacteria: some bacterias are typically found in the vaginal area. Bacterial vaginosis is caused by an excess of these microorganisms.
- Yeast: Candida albicans, a fungus, is the most common cause of yeast infections. Antibiotics, for example, can affect the amount of antifungal bacteria in your vaginal canal. This reduction can result in fungus overgrowth, which can lead to infection.
- Trichomonas: this is a protozoan parasite that is transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse.
- Vaginal atrophy: this is a typical consequence of menopause. Vaginal thinning and dryness can be caused by low hormone levels. It can also happen at some other periods in your life, such as when you’re breastfeeding where your oestrogen levels are low. Inflammation of the vaginal canal can occur as a result of these factors.
- Irritants: fragrant soaps, body washes, perfumes, and vaginal contraceptives are all known to irritate the vaginal canal. This may result in inflammation. Tight-fitting clothing might also irritate your vaginal area by causing heat rashes.
What is Bacterial Vaginosis?
The most common vaginal infection among women is bacterial vaginosis, or BV. Until recently, the Gardnerella bacteria were thought to be the only bacteria that caused BV. However, we now have a greater understanding of the situation. BV is caused by a range of bacteria that normally exist in the vaginal area but have become overabundant.
What Makes The Bacteria Become Overabundant in BV?
The vaginal tract is a highly manipulated organ that experiences several alterations. Everything from menstrual blood, physical friction during intercourse, and sperm from ejaculation to menstrual products like pads and tampons is actually altering the pH of the vagina. Let’s not forget that, despite the fact that it’s frowned upon, many women continue to expose their vagina to douching.
All of the abovementioned disrupts the vaginal environment, allowing the bacteria that cause BV to thrive in excess, resulting in the foul-smelling, copious discharge that is associated with the infection.
Gardnerella and its BV cohorts take over, causing a reduction in the good, typical bacteria called Lactobacilli.
Does BV Considered As A Sexually Transmitted Disease?
No. An STD is caused by something that isn’t ordinarily found in the vagina, but the germs that cause BV are found in the vaginal area, albeit in small enough quantities to produce a problem.
When the vaginal environment is disrupted, these naturally occurring bacteria tend to overpopulate the vagina and cause BV.
However, BV may increase the risk of getting an STD. Due to BV and the inflammation it creates, sexually transmitted infections might spread to the upper parts of your genital track. As a reason, it’s best to treat BV to lower your chances of contracting a STI if you’re exposed to one.
How Are Vaginal Infections Treated?
Treatment for vaginal infections is determined by the source of the infection. For example:
- A bacterial infection may require the use of metronidazole tablets, cream, or gel, or clindamycin cream or gel.
- A yeast infection may be treated with antifungal creams or suppositories.
- Vaginal atrophy can be treated with oestrogen creams or tablets.
- Your doctor might recommend a different product to minimize irritation if your infection is caused by an irritant such as soap.
Can Bacterial Vaginosis Be Treatable?
Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial vaginosis, which can be given orally or vaginally with the use of peccaries. Antifungal treatment may also be prescribed by your doctor as a preventative measure against a fungal infection. This is because antibiotic treatment can kill healthy bacteria in the vaginal area, allowing fungus to thrive.
Is There A Chance For BV to Recur After Treatment?
Bacterial vaginosis, however, can be a difficult disease to treat. Since recurrence rates might be as high as 80%, don’t be shocked if you become infected again following treatment.
Simply update your doctor, get re-examined to make sure it’s not another infection, and you’ll need a second round of medication, as well as a discussion about how to prevent recurrence.
The key to effective prevention is to maintain a steady acidic vaginal environment with a dominating good lactobacilli bacterial population.
Does The Treatment For Recurrent BV Differ From The Usual?
If your BV is recurring and you are still experiencing vaginal infections despite regular treatment, your doctor may suggest the following:
- Adding a couple more days to the completion of your antibiotic therapy.
- Using an antibiotic vaginal pessary (metronidazole) to administer into the vagina twice a week for around 3-6 months.
Can I Spread BV To My Partner After Sexual Intercourse?
Yes. Please take your male partner to the doctor if he experiences penile itching and discomfort after sexual contact.
Are There Any Ways To Prevent Vaginal Infections?
Certain vaginal infections are unavoidable. Using a condom during sexual activity can help prevent STIs from spreading. It also reduces your chances of contracting them.
Some vaginal infections can also be avoided with proper cleanliness.
Cotton underwear and pantyhose with a cotton crotch should be worn whenever possible. This can help to reduce the likelihood of vaginal inflammation and irritation. Wearing less breathable fabrics might cause discomfort and irritation in certain people.
What Is The Outlook For Vaginal Infections?
In most cases, treatment for vaginal infections is highly effective. You will obtain the best treatment if you have the correct diagnosis.
BV on the other hand is a very prevalent condition that is both distressing and irritating. Fortunately, it has no long-term effects on your reproductive organs or fertility. We want you to know that BV is treatable, and that you should be patient with the lengthy treatments that repeated infections often necessitate.
If you are experiencing any symptoms, please contact your doctor.