Why it’s time we talk about bacterial vaginosis

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  • Think it's thrush? Think again...

    Interestingly, 66% of women who have weird vaginal discharge assume they have thrush, when they actually have bacterial vaginosis (BV)… But just what is it exactly?

    According to Balance Activ, BV affects 1 in 3 adult women at some point in their lives, which Clinical Nurse Specialist in Contraception and Sexual Health, Helen Knox, tells us means a whopping 8.9 million women in the UK will be affected – so it’s worth talking about BV now.

    What is BV?

    Linda Booth says it is ‘a candida [fungus] infection and this condition is characterised by a thin white discharge and a strong, ‘fishy’ odour.’

    Bacterial vaginosis symptoms

    Symptoms range from white, grey, thin discharge with a ‘fishy’ odour and some feeling or irritation or discomfort around the vaginal area.

    Bacterial vaginosis causes

    According to BV Explained, vaginal conditions occur when bacteria, fungi or viruses become imbalanced in and around the vaginal area. The three most common vaginal conditions affecting women are bacterial vaginosis (BV), candidiasis (thrush) and trichomoniasis (trich), all of which can cause either discharge, odour, irritation or itching. Other causes include excessive washing, using perfumed soap or bubble bath, antibiotics, menstruation, using an IUD or coil and even semen.

    Helen Knox adds, ‘If you understand the correct symptoms to watch out for, then it’s much easier to determine whether you are suffering from BV. So, if your vagina itches, smells distinctly with a fishy odour and/or has an usual discharge – then BV could be the cause. Ultimately, the vagina is self-cleaning, but it is also a delicate environment which can so easily be disrupted by factors that upset its natural balance.’

    Bacterial vaginosis cures

    Basically, your vagina is all about balance and you need to have lactobacillus (good bacteria) there to stop any other micro-organisms growing and disrupting your pH (acid/alkaline) balance. So, you want to make sure you’re doing everything in your daily life to keep this balance happy, like eating this every time after having sex.

    Over -the-counter cures

    Antibiotic Metronidazole is usually prescribed for BV as well as Lactic Acid gels and pessaries which can help maintain the pH balance of your vagina. And, Balance Activ contains lactic acid and glycogen to combat it and help good bacteria to grow again. The probiotics contained in For Women have also been shown to increase the effectiveness of antibiotic treatment of this infection, or they can act alone to re-colonise the vaginal tract and protect against infection. Taking a Garlic supplement is also believed to complement the probiotics as it helps fight infection and strengthen the immune system.

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