Definition of Bacterial Vaginosis

Do you know what defines bacterial vaginosis?

Let’s imagine for a moment that you start noticing that you have been itching in the vaginal area. During the day the itching becomes almost unbearable and before you know it, there’s a burning feeling as well. You realize that it’s time to go to the doctor’s office for a check-up, as much as you really don’t like the stirrup scenario.

As you wait in the office, all sorts of thoughts and images are passing through your mind. The one predominant thought you recognize is that maybe your partner has been cheating on you and he contracted a venereal disease. How horrible that would be! After all, you’ve been faithful.

Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis

The doctor then asks you what symptoms you’ve been feeling. You tell him or her that  the itching and burning feelings seemed to come out of nowhere. The doctor asks if you have been noticing any peculiar odors and you reply yes, a dead fish smell or an old dirty sock smell coming from your vagina. At first you thought it was coming from your dog or the man who shared the cubicle with you at work. Then you noticed the smell followed you everywhere.

What a rude awakening!

The doctor gives you a gown and says she’ll be back in a few minutes and will do a gynecological exam. You’ll be in the stirrups in a few minutes.

Once in the stirrups, you realize how much you have always disliked this test. She takes a vaginal sample and you notice her nose twitch during the procedure. She smells it, too! But she doesn’t say a word to make you feel bad. She then tells you to get dressed.

Your doctor has a lab tech in the office that examines the sample under the microscope.  The doctor returns to the exam room and announces,

“Suzy, you have bacterial vaginosis.

“Bacterial vaginosis? Is this a venereal disease?”

“No, not at all,” she says reassuringly.

Bacterial vaginosis is a condition where the pH of the vaginal tract is not in the normal range. This allows the wrong type of bacteria and flora to grow.

“Is that why I have all the itching, burning and smell?

“Yes. When you have the right flora, you won’t have any smell at all. You won’t have any itching or burning either.”

“Can I get this from having sex?”

“Well not exactly. Having too many partners can introduce many different strains of bacteria and upset the flora,” she says.

“Is bacterial vaginosis contagious?”

“No, but there are some times when we would treat a partner. In your case we won’t. Just take a break from sex while you’re being treated.”

You breathe a sigh of relief. Your partner wasn’t unfaithful after all. But there goes any idea of a short fling with that nice-looking young man you just met at the bar …

“So how did I get it?”

Causes of Bacterial Vaginosis

She replies that it’s possible to get it from eating a poor diet, such as one that is high in sugars and processed foods. This changes the pH not only of the GI tract and the urinary tract but also the reproductive tract and the vagina. Stress also causes a change in pH as the hormone cortisol skyrockets. Douching too much will also change the flora, allowing pathogenic bacteria to take control and outnumber the good bacteria.

She prescribes the antibiotic Flagyl and you’re off to the pharmacy. Hopefully you’ll put this all behind you soon!

But wait, what was that comment that your friend said awhile back when she had bacterial vaginosis?

It was something about side effects of Flagyl and wishing she had tried something more natural first…

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