If you are blissfully unaware of what Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is, then lucky you! Some women with this condition do not experience any symptoms, but for many women, BV is an unpleasant condition that can dominate their daily lives, in particular their love lives.

woman body
Vaginal infection - an invisible burden for up to one in three women
 

BV is a vaginal area that creates an embarrassing, grey, watery discharge, often described as strongly ‘fishy smelling.’

Despite the fact that 1 in 3 women are affected, BV and other similar conditions can be a taboo subject, particularly as the discharge can worsen after sexual intercourse which can wrongly give the impression that it is a sexually transmitted disease.

National BV Day, which is on Thursday 16th April, is hoping to promote awareness of the condition and to bring this and other female intimate health issues out of the closet and into our conversation!

So what does cause BV?

In short, BV is simply caused by vaginal dysbiosis, or an imbalance of the delicate flora resident in the intimate areas. The flora can become unbalanced for a variety of reasons: 

  • Sexual activity 
  • If you use an intrauterine device (IUD) 
  • Smoking 
  • The use of scented soaps,antiseptic bath liquids or bubble bath or vaginal deodorant 
  • Douching, or flushing the the vagina with water or other fluids  
  • The use of strong washing detergents when washing underwear
woman in bath
Scented soaps, antiseptic bath liquids or bubble bath can unbalance the delicate intimate flora

How can we rebalance our vaginal flora?

Supplementing with beneficial bacteria is thought to help rebalance the intestinal flora but recent research has indicated that certain strains, Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14 and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1, travel through the digestive system, cross the perineum and colonise directly in the female genito-urethral area. 

These bacteria hail from a genus which is so named Lactobacillus as they are known to produce synthesise sugars (in this case glycogen) to produce lactic acid. Lactic acid lowers the pH of the vaginal area to further encourage the growth of good bacteria and discourage the bad bacteria that cause the unpleasant odour, abnormal discharge and inflammation. 

For further reading about probiotics and female intimate health, click on the following links:

Probiotics and Bacterial Vaginosis

Which probiotics are best for women?

The scientific research behind ‘For women.’

L.reuteri RC-14 and L.rhamnosus GR-1 granted vaginal health claim in Korea

Reference:
Image1: www.yourtango.com
Image2: www.beautyden.com
References: 1) Mastromarino et al, 2009.  2) Anukam et al, 2006. Augmentation of antimicrobial metronidazole therapy of bacterial vaginosis with oral probioticLactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuteri RC-14

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