Bacterial Vaginosis: Symptoms, Causes and Solutions

Bacterial vaginosis is often called a vaginal infection, but this isn’t entirely accurate. It is actually a pronounced dysbiosis of the vaginal flora, meaning an imbalance of bacteria. In a healthy vagina, up to 100 billion bacteria, primarily lactic acid bacteria, maintain a slightly acidic environment to protect against infections. When these beneficial bacteria are outnumbered by other germs, a dysbiosis occurs and the pH of the vagina can be thrown out.

Interestingly, around half of the women with bacterial vaginosis experience no symptoms or discomfort. But for those who do experience symptoms they can experience:

  1. Discharge: It's normal to have some vaginal discharge, usually whitish or clear, averaging about 5 ml per day. However, if the discharge becomes more frequent, changes color, or is accompanied by an unpleasant odor, itching, burning, or pain, it's important to consult a doctor.
  2. Intimate odor: A strong, unpleasant, fishy smell emanating from the vagina or discharge. The distinctive odor associated with bacterial vaginosis is due to various amine compounds produced by pathogens like Gardnerella vaginalis. These amines not only cause the fishy smell but also increase the vaginal pH, promoting the growth of unwanted germs.
  3. Other Symptoms: While pain, itching, or burning in the genital area are not typical of bacterial vaginosis, they can occur and may indicate other conditions, like a bladder infection.

It's best to have any symptoms checked by a doctor as soon as possible.

Tips for a Healthy Vaginal Flora

Women prone to recurring vaginal infections can take proactive steps to support a healthy vaginal environment. Maintaining a strong vaginal flora is crucial for preventing dysbiosis, a change in pH and infections. Here are some general tips to help achieve this:

  • Balanced Diet: Ensure your diet is balanced and rich in vitamins. Limit Sugar and processed food intake
  • Healthy Lifestyle Exercise regularly and avoid cigarettes and alcohol
  • Proper Hygiene: Practice adequate, but not excessive, intimate hygiene. Use mild washing lotions like Dr. Wolff's V-san Intimate Wash Lotion.
  • Avoid Vaginal Douches: Refrain from using vaginal rinses or douches, as these can disrupt the natural lactobacilli and irritate the mucous membranes.
  • Reduce Stress: Incorporate relaxation techniques to manage stress.
  • Breathable Underwear: Wear underwear that is as breathable as possible. Opt for natural fabrics rather then synthetic that can cause the sweat and bacteria to become trapped
  • Condom Use: Use condoms when having sex especially with new or multiple partners.

These steps can help to contribute to maintaining a healthy vaginal environment and reducing the risk of infections. Check with your doctor for the best individualised advice.