Just as there are good and bad bacteria found inside the intestinal tract, there are good and bad bacteria found inside the vagina flora.
The good bacteria are bacteria that keep the tissues healthy and do not cause any type of disease.
The bad bacteria are bacteria that can cause disease if their numbers increase.
How A Healthy Vaginal Flora Looks Like
The normal flora of the vagina includes the following bacteria:
- Lactobacillus species
- Staphylococcus epidermidis
- Staphylococcus aureus
- Staphylococcus mitis
- Enterococcus faecalis
- Streptococcus pneumoniae
- Streptococcus pyogenes
- Neisseria species
- Neisseria meningitides
- E. coliProteus species
From this list, you can see that many of them can potentially cause disease.
For example, Staphylococcus aureus can cause infections that may become antibiotic-resistant. E. coli can cause infections as well.
The good and bad bacteria depend on each other for their survival while they live in the normal flora.
When the numbers of good bacteria dwindle, the bad bacteria take over and cause disease.
In the vagina, symptoms such as discharge, smell, pain, burning and itching indicate that the bad bacteria have taken over.
Healthy vaginal flora protects the body from infection. It also keeps the tissues healthy.
Daily Habits and Ideas to Keep the Vagina Healthy
- Eat plain, unflavored yogurt with live active cultures at least three times a week
- Wear cotton underwear that fits you well and doesn’t rub against the skin in the wrong way
- After going to the bathroom, wipe front to back. This prevents the introduction of bacteria from the rectum into the vagina
- If you wear tampons, change them frequently. The longer that you leave them in, the faster the bacteria on them will breed, causing potential infections
- Change tampons after you urinate to prevent urine from traveling up the tampon into the vagina
- If your vagina feels dry during intercourse, use a lubricant. When your vagina is dry, you risk minor tears in the wall that occur during intercourse
- Don’t douche. Douching removes the good bacteria without replacing it
- Don’t use feminine hygiene products such as powders, sanitary pads, or sprays with deodorant
- Don’t wear tight-fitting pants–they rub against the vagina causing irritation that can contribute to infections
- Eat a healthy diet that contains very little processed foods and sugar. These foods change the pH of your vagina
- Resist the urge to have multiple sex partners. Studies show a correlation of multiple sex partners with recurring infections of bacterial vaginosis even though it isn’t a sexually transmitted disease
- Never re-use a condom
- Once you find out you have bacterial vaginosis, clear it up as soon as possible. If you choose to use natural methods, make sure that you go back to the gynecologist for another test that shows it has cleared up.
- Give serious consideration to the type of sanitary products you use. Pads or tampons that contain deodorant are an ‘insult’ to the delicate vaginal tissues. Most sanitary pads and tampons are not sanitary at all! Instead they contain bleaches, plastics, and dioxins from recycled materials. These chemicals are absorbed by the reproductive system. It’s no wonder that women suffer from cramps, PMS, fibroids, and reproductive cancers at such high rates. Teenagers are now being diagnosed with ovarian cancer! Switch to a brand that keeps you dry, has no chemicals at all, is biodegradable, and prevents infections with unique technology.
- Often, sanitary pads are stored underneath the sink in the bathroom where it’s really not that sanitary. Moreover, many sanitary pads or tampons may not be wrapped to keep out infectious bacteria. Store your box of pads or tampons in the bedroom, not the bathroom where germs become airborne every time you flush the toilet.
- Sanitary pads have an expiration date on them. Beyond this expiration date, the pads will have accumulated too much bacterial contamination, even though they are in a ‘wrapped’ package. Throw them out if they’re past the expiration date.