Millions of women in the UK get Bacterial Vaginosis (BV). There are effective treatments available for women with BV, and the NHS currently recommends a course of antibiotics to clear it, which works well. But recurring BV can be persistent and it is estimated to come back in more than half of women within three months of treatment with antibiotics.
So what can you do to stop it coming back?
Know Your BV
It helps to understand what BV is to help prevent it coming back, so in a nutshell:
Bacterial vaginosis or BV is caused when the environment inside your vagina is out of balance. There is a system of millions of micro-organisms keeping your vaginal health in perfect balance. One of these organisms, Lactobacillus, creates lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide which keep the vaginal pH slightly acidic and help prevent harmful bacteria from getting out of hand. If the balance of the vagina is disturbed, your body doesn’t produce as many Lactobacilli and you may start to see symptoms of bacterial vaginosis.
Know Your Triggers
Everyone’s body is different and everyone’s lifestyle is unique, so for some women having sex without a condom can trigger BV, others find a hot bath or wearing tight jeans is enough to set it off. If your BV comes back, try to take note of what may have triggered it. Here’s a list of some of the more common triggers.
- Perfumed ‘intimate hygiene’ products
- Semen – try using a condom if it triggers BV
- Heavy periods
- Some antibiotics
- Too much washing – once a day is plenty
- Hormonal changes due to puberty, pregnancy or menopause
- The coil
- Sex toys
- Changing soaps/washing powder
- Wearing thongs & tights
- Wearing synthetic clothing or wearing trousers all the time
- Having baths (rather than showers)
- Changing sexual partners or having a few partners at a time
If you find you have your own personal trigger that’s not on this list please do share it with us at: firstname.lastname@example.org as we are always looking to further our knowledge and understanding of BV and hear about your experiences.
Stop it in its tracks
A recent study in the USA showed that women’s frustration with the BV treatment choices available and the advice they were being given lead them to try their own self-help remedies. Among them were: douching with vinegar, adding homeopathic remedies to the bath or going on ‘raw diets’ in an attempt to prevent recurrences. It’s worth remembering in an age of online advice that not all home remedies are effective and some that are found the internet with no scientific basis can actually make things worse, so it’s important to make sure whatever you are doing is safe and is not going to cause further problems with your vaginal health. Your vagina is delicately balanced and does not take kindly to having water and vinegar or anything else forced into it with a douche!
If you have been given a BV treatment and it has not worked, we would always recommend you go back to your healthcare professional and let them know as it may be that you have another vaginal health condition that requires a different treatment.
If you want to manage your BV at home, particularly once you understand your own triggers, having a treatment such as Balance Activ at the ready in your bathroom cabinet can help make sure you can quickly and effectively stamp out your BV when it tries to come back.
Balance Activ treatment gel and pessaries combat symptoms and causes of BV because they are formulated with lactic acid and glycogen, which encourage the growth of your body’s own defence (Lactobacillus) and help to balance your vaginal pH and make it healthy and acidic again. It also quickly neutralises smells.