When something is wrong, I want to know why. What did I do to cause the problem? Is there something I can do differently to keep it from happening again? This is true for all kinds of problems. A relationship ends and I want to know what went wrong, so I don’t make the same mistakes in future relationships. What I just pulled out of the oven in no way resembles the picture on the recipe. What step did I miss or mess up? If I make the recipe again, I want it to be edible next time. You get the idea.
Most of us feel the same way about our health. If I would have had a glass of orange juice with breakfast, would I have gotten this cold? If I hadn’t eaten that, would my stomach feel like this? Et cetera. Bacterial vaginosis is no different. Most women want to know what they did to cause this condition. Can they do anything differently to lower their chances for getting it again? Unfortunately, the exact cause of bacterial vaginosis is unknown. However, there are some behaviors that tend to lead to higher probability of getting it.
What we do know about this condition is that it is the result of an imbalance of bacteria in the vaginal area. In a normal, healthy vagina, there is a delicate balance between good and bad bacteria. In a vagina with bacterial vaginosis, a decrease in good bacteria and an increase of bad bacteria lead to an imbalance that causes those humiliating symptoms. These so-called “bad bacteria” are usually anaerobic bacteria–bacteria that grow in the absence of oxygen. So there are some theories as to activities and behaviors that increase our chances of developing the condition.
Since the “bad bacteria” thrive without oxygen, we need to ensure that our “special area” is getting oxygen. This includes making sure the fabric of our underwear is “breathable” like cotton. Also, avoid wearing pants that are too tight and restrict the flow of oxygen.
Certain chemicals can also play a role in killing of the “good bacteria.” Products such as douches, vaginal sprays and perfumes, harsh soaps, etc are not helping. Although they may cover the odor which is one of the most embarrassing symptoms, in the long run, it is probably just making your condition worse.
Antibiotics can also lead to bacterial vaginosis. Antibiotics’ job is to kill bacteria. Unfortunately, they don’t differentiate between good and bad bacteria. This can lead to a decrease in “good bacteria,” and without the good bacteria, the bad bacteria gets free reign of the vaginal area.
Contrary to what some people say, bacterial vaginosis is not an STD. It isn’t contagious, so you can’t “get it” from your sexual partner. However, bacterial vaginosis occurs more frequently in sexually active women, especially those with multiple partners, so even though there is no clear connection between BV and sex, there definitely appears to be one.
These are only preventative measures. If you already have BV, changing your underwear or throwing out your vaginal spray isn’t going to cure it. You need treatment, whether you seek medical help or try a home remedy.