What is Bacterial Vaginosis and How Do Women Get It?
Bacterial Vaginosis, or BV, is a common vaginal infection caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina. Everyone’s bodies have a certain level of harmless bacteria in them that usually don’t cause any issues unless there is an overgrowth of the bacteria.
Your vagina is made up of healthy microorganisms like bacteria, fungi, and yeast. Together, these microorganisms are known as vaginal flora that are almost like a mini-ecosystem. Like any ecosystem, when there is a disruption to its balance problems can occur.
Part of this ecosystem are small amounts of anaerobic bacteria in the vagina as well as a good, protective bacteria known as Lactobacilli. Lactobacilli is a natural disinfectant your body produces to keep your vagina balanced. When the anaerobic bacteria grows out of control, the Lactobacilli isn’t able to do its job and a BV infection can occur.
Symptoms of Unbalanced pH Levels
Potential hydrogen levels, or pH levels, are a measure of acidity or alkalinity based on a scale of 0-14. Your pH levels throughout your body vary, but the vagina’s normal pH range is usually between 3.8 to 4.5. Anything over 4.5 creates an environment where harmful bacteria can thrive and cause BV.
Up to two thirds of women don’t experience any symptoms when they have BV so it’s possible to have an infection without realising it. For those who do get symptoms, they may be more pronounced during menstruation or right after sexual intercourse.
Symptoms of unbalanced vaginal pH include:
- Redness or itching around the vagina or labia
- Rash or swelling around the vagina or labia
- A strong, unpleasant odour or fishy smell
- Burning sensation during urination
- Pain during sex
- Chunky vaginal discharge
- Thin white, grey, or green vaginal discharge
- Are There Any Long-Term Complications from BV?
BV typically doesn’t cause any long term side effects or serious complications, especially if it is fully and successfully treated. In rare cases, however, BV can lead to complications like:
- Fertility problems
- Pregnant women with BV may give birth prematurely
- Low birth weight in babies
- Increased risk of infection after gynaecological surgery
- Increased risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- It’s also important to note that while BV isn’t a sexually transmitted infection (STI), it can be caused by sex and can be passed during sex. This includes sex between two women.
How to Prevent Bacterial Vaginosis
It’s not fully known what causes vaginal pH imbalance or bacterial vaginosis clue cells, but it’s believed diet, hormones, medications, and lifestyle can be contributing factors. Women and girls of any age can experience BV, but it is rarely found in younger girls or in women who have never been sexually active. Women and girls who have had sex with one or more partner are more likely to get BV.
Other risk factors include:
- Being with a new sexual partner
- Using an IUD
- Using perfumed products in or around the vagina
- Using a douche
- Being under a lot of stress
- Taking antibiotics
- Hormonal changes
- Consuming excessive dairy products
How to Restore PH Balance in Your Vagina
Bacterial vaginosis is diagnosed by testing the acidity of vaginal discharge and looking for cells called clue cells that are coated with bacteria. If you have a pH of 4.5 or higher, discharge with a fishy odour, and clue cells are present then you may have BV.
If you’re diagnosed with BV, your health care provider will prescribe you medication to treat the infection. This may be in the form of tablets or as a cream or gel that’s applied directly into the vagina with an applicator. When taking medication to treat a BV infection, make sure you complete the entire course even if your symptoms appear to have gone away. Not finishing your entire treatment course can increase the chances of BV coming back.
How to Prevent Bacterial Vaginosis
There are several steps you can take to ease your symptoms, prevent BV, or prevent recurrent episodes of BV.
- Don’t use douches, vaginal perfumes, or any other scented cosmetics in or around your vagina.
- Using condoms during sexual intercourse.
- Wipe front to back after using the toilet.
- Wear breathable underwear and avoid tight clothing.
- Find ways to reduce stress.
- Change tampons, pads, and towels often.
- Work probiotics into your diet (e.g., yoghurt, pickled foods, kombucha).
Treating Bacterial Vaginosis with Pharmacy Planet
If you have bacterial vaginosis, you can easily get relief with treatment available online in the UK from Pharmacy Planet. Our pharmacists can prescribe your BV medication and have it shipped safely, quickly, and discreetly right to your doorstep.
Metronidazole Tablets: A broad-spectrum oral antibiotic that can be used to treat several types of bacterial infections including bacterial vaginosis. It belongs to a group of medications known as nitroimidazole antimicrobials and works by stopping the growth of bacteria. Metronidazole is also effective at preventing further infection.
Your prescriber will tell you how long you should take this medication. Take the tablet whole with a glass of water either during or right after a meal. Don’t chew or crush these tablets as doing so can increase the risk of side effects like stomach upset and nausea.
Dalacin 2% Cream: An antibiotic vaginal cream used to treat BV in adult women. The active ingredient, clindamycin phosphate, works by stopping the overgrowth of BV causing bacteria. It’s applied directly into the vagina with a disposable applicator that comes with the cream. Before applying the medication, get into a comfortable position to make insertion easier. Always wash your hands prior to applying the cream and after you’ve finished applying it.
The usual course is 7 days with a full applicator of cream applied at bedtime, about 5 grams. If you miss a dose, you can apply it first thing in the morning.
Visit our website or contact us today to get affordable and effective BV treatment online. The pharmacists at Pharmacy Planet are able to prescribe a wide range of medications to boost your health that we’ll have shipped hassle-free directly to your doorstep.