When a woman experiences an unusual discharge from her vagina, it can be an upsetting and embarrassing situation. Although this is a common symptom, it doesn’t mean you have a sexually transmitted infection. Instead, it is most often a sign of bacterial vaginosis. In this article, learn more about the causes and symptoms of this condition, as well as some remedies you can try at home.
What is bacterial vaginosis?
BV occurs when there is an imbalance in the vagina’s natural bacterial flora. The reason why this happens is still unclear as the condition is not the same as a yeast infection. Around 30 percent of US women between the ages of 14 and 49 are thought to be affected by bacterial vaginosis, whether it’s during pregnancy, menopause, or menstruation.
Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis
Some women don’t have any symptoms, but the most common symptoms are:
• Vaginal discharge that’s watery or white in color
• Strong, fishy smell from the vagina
The less common symptoms may be:
• A burning sensation during urination
• Spots of blood
What makes you more likely to get BV?
• Being sexually active
• Having multiple sexual partners
• A history of an STI, such as chlamydia
• Smoking has been identified as a risk factor for bacterial vaginosis
• Using a copper coil for contraception
• Hormonal changes triggered by puberty, pregnancy, or menopause
• Frequent use of bubble bath
• Having prolonged or heavy periods
If you have taken a long course of antibiotics for a different condition, your good bacteria will also be killed off, so you’re more likely to experience bacterial vaginosis. Other triggers can upset the vaginal pH balance and increase the risk of BV too. These include:
• Using sex toys
• Using perfumed lubricants during sex
• Too much washing around the vagina area
• Wearing nylon tights or thongs
When to seek treatment for bacterial vaginosis
BV usually clears up by itself, as the disruption in the vaginal bacteria can correct naturally with time. If you have no symptoms, you won’t need treatment. However, if you’re pregnant, or trying to conceive, you’ll be advised by a gynecologist to seek treatment.
Most doctors tend to prescribe oral antibiotics for pregnant women with bacterial vaginosis. This is often metronidazole, which is a common antibiotic treatment for the condition. In most cases, oral antibiotics clear up the symptoms within a week.
But before you opt for medication, consider trying some effective home remedies that include:
• Yogurt: eating yogurt will help increase the healthy bacteria in the body, thus establishing a balanced vaginal environment. This natural probiotic fights off the harmful bacteria in the vagina. Eat at least one serving per day to get the most benefits.
• Probiotic supplements: aside from yogurt, there are plenty of probiotic supplements you can find in your local health shop. By taking these supplements on a daily basis, you can treat and even prevent bacterial vaginosis. Probiotic supplements come in liquid or pill form and are sometimes a good alternative to antibiotics, which can kill off the good bacteria in your body.
• Garlic: since garlic has anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties, it’s long been used as a natural remedy for bacterial vaginosis, its effectiveness has recently been confirmed by this scientific study. If you don’t like the taste of garlic, you can take a garlic tablet to treat your condition.
A good prevention tip is to wear breathable cotton underwear. There are certain types of underwear that aren’t as breathable as cotton. For example, nylon can trap moisture and provide a breeding ground for harmful bacteria, which can cause vaginal infection as a result. So if you want to heal quickly or prevent future episodes of bacterial vaginosis from occurring, wear 100% cotton underwear and avoid tight leggings, thongs, and tight jeans.