If you’re reading this blog, then chances are you’re not a stranger to vaginal irritation, and the onset of summer can add to the list of things that upset your vaginal health – whether it’s tighter clothing, summer romances, or more frequent washing with perfumed products, it’s an irritation you could do without. So we’ve asked Helen Knox, Clinical Nurse Specialist in Sexual Health and member of the Intimate Health Taskforce to give us some tips on keeping things in balance when things hot up.
Ultimately, the vagina is self-cleaning, but it is also a delicate environment and the natural balance of micro-organisms in the vagina can easily be disrupted. This is when you’ll start to notice things aren’t quite right.
Many women know about thrush symptoms and when usual conditions change they assume that’s what it is – but there is a more common condition called bacterial vaginosis (BV), which is characterised by vaginal irritation, a distinctive (often fishy) smell and/or an unusual discharge. BV will affect 1 in 3 women of childbearing age at some point in their lives and occurs when the natural balance of the vagina is disrupted. The vaginal pH is naturally slightly acidic and it starts to lose its acidity if something alkaline such as semen is introduced, or if the protective, good bacteria that maintain its natural balance are affected. Here’s a list of some of the things that you can do to try and prevent upsetting your natural balance:
- Avoid using perfumed wipes and wearing panty liners which could increase chances of irritation. If you get hot, change your underwear and avoid tight clothing.
- Don’t douche –The vagina cleans itself, so even if you’re at a festival without showers there is no need to wash it as you will be flushing out the good bacteria which is there for a reason.
- Use a condom – It’s the safest way to have sex, especially if it’s with a new partner. Condoms can also help prevent BV if sex is one of your BV triggers. If you are having unprotected sex, then try to pee as soon after sex as possible.
- Front to back – a simple one, but when we are in a hurry and away from our home comforts we can easily forget – but wiping front to back is a must. Otherwise you can introduce bowel germs to your urethra (urine passage).
- Choose breathable materials for underwear and avoid tight clothing, especially as temperatures rise. Cotton gussets ladies, at all times!
- Avoid wearing thongs. They are not a girl’s best friend when it comes to BV!
- Replenish good bacteria – If you are prone to BV, take a supply of Balance Activ with you in your toiletry bag as it can be used as a preventative measure to help maintain normal pH levels if you suspect a bout of BV is coming on.
Click here to find out more about what can trigger BV and the treatment options available.
BV doesn’t need to be a problem. There are a variety of effective BV treatment options available from your local pharmacy, including Balance Activ vaginal gels and pessaries. The Balance Activ range has been helping women successfully treat BV for over 10 years. It is a gentle formula that has been clinically proven to treat BV – and contains a unique combination of lactic acid and glycogen. The lactic acid helps to fight BV by restoring the normal vaginal pH and the glycogen provides nutrients to help the good bacteria regrow and maintain your natural balance. You can use Balance Activ to maintain your vaginal health when you’re run down, or if, when taking antibiotics, you think you have symptoms of bacterial vaginosis.
If you’re not sure whether it’s BV or thrush try our online symptom checker by clicking here.