There are some things that affect (and/or infect) a lot of us that we don’t want to talk about. Bacterial Vaginosis (more commonly known as simply “BV”) is one of those things. Although it’s a pretty common type of bacterial infection (approximately 29.2% of women within the United States between the ages of 14-49 have been diagnosed with it), due to the fact that it is something that is related to the vaginal area, it tends to be something that we often want to keep as private as the location where it attacks.
However, the truth of the matter is that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. In simplistic terms, all women have bacteria in their vaginal area, both good and not-so-good. Sometimes, due to a shift in our PH levels (sometimes from things like douching or changing sex partners), there is an overgrowth of the bacteria that isn’t good for us and a bacterial infection sets in. This can lead to itching, burning, a change in discharge and odor. And oftentimes, it’s a form of BV.
One of the main things to remember about BV is that unless it is diagnosed by a doctor, you may attempt to try and treat it like a yeast infection (with over-the-counter anti-fungal creams). In many instances, not only will many of the symptoms remain reoccurring, but it can also become a quite pricey. The good news is that there are BV tests that you can purchase at your local drugstore to confirm if it is a yeast or bacterial infection.
When it comes to actually treating it, there are times when BV will clear up naturally on its own (or you can use at-home treatments such taking acidophilus tablets or inserting boric acid suppositories); however, sometimes antibiotics will be required. Therefore, it’s always recommended that you see your practicing physician even if you have taken an over-the-counter test.
With all of this said, as we all know, if we can prevent something from happening in the first place, that keeps us from needing to have something prescribed on the back end. When it comes to ways to avoid contracting BV, here are a list of five things that you can do:
Practice good hygiene
This doesn’t just mean to take a shower every day, but to make sure that you wipe yourself from front to back, that you dry yourself thoroughly after bathing (bacteria thrives in warm, wet climates) and that you use hypo-allergenic soaps if you are sensitive to harsh chemicals.
Keep douching to a minimum (if at all)
One of the beautiful things about a woman’s body is that it’s self-cleansing. Therefore, it doesn’t need a douche to “keep it fresh”. If you see a change in your discharge or notice an unpleasant odor, don’t attempt to “douche it away”. That actually rids your body of the good bacteria that’s already within it. If something is different, something is wrong. See your doctor, instead.
Refrain from tight clothing
Clothing items like super-tight pants, pantyhose and underwear made from synthetic fibers prevent the body from doing one of the things that it needs to do most and that is to breathe. Keep the “clingy clothes” down to a minimum and opt for wearing cotton panties. Your body will thank you for it.
Practice wise sex
If you are sexually active and you’ve been having recurrent cases of BV, honestly, you may want to get to know more about your partner(s) because whether knowingly or unknowingly, they could be the culprit. A lot of health care providers recommend that one of the best ways to keep BV away is to be abstinent (at best) or to keep the number of people that you have sex with down to a very low minimum.
Finish all of your medication
If you are diagnosed with BV and you need to be put on antibiotics, there can be a temptation to stop taking the medication once you start to feel better. This could actually cause your body to not totally rid itself of the bacteria and in worse case scenarios, make you resistant to the medicine. Therefore, whatever you’re given, make sure to finish it so that not only the symptoms, but the ailment itself will be eliminated.