Bacterial vaginosis is a curable vaginal infection that, in the worst case, can affect female fertility.
The Importance of Bacterial Vaginosis
The vaginal biome is made up of many different types of bacteria. While some of these bacteria are good and required for healthy vaginal functioning, an overgrowth of the bad types can lead to uncomfortable symptoms such as discharge and itching. While dealing with the general symptoms of a vaginal infection is bad enough, women must also worry about its potential to affect their fertility.
Bacterial vaginosis is one of the most common types of vaginal infections that women experience, and understanding its role in your ability to get pregnant today or in the future gives you a starting point for protecting your reproductive health.
Understand the Risk Factors for Developing Vaginal Infections
The risks associated with developing this condition are based on factors that disrupt the delicate balance of bacteria in the vagina. For instance, women who have a new sexual partner or a sexually transmitted disease are at risk of developing this infection on top of any others.
You are also more at risk for this infection if you douche or use scented hygiene products regularly since these can cause bad bacteria to flourish while the healthy bacteria is lost. Women with female sexual partners who have the infection may also pass it on to their partners during sexual activity.
Know the Signs and Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis
Discharge with a distinctive foul, fishy odor is the hallmark symptom of bacterial vaginosis. This discharge may be especially noticeable after intercourse, and it may vary in its intensity. You may also notice other symptoms such as itching, burning and redness in the vaginal area. You may also experience some burning with urination.
Many women try to mask the odor of this infection with scented hygiene products, which only make the issue worse. These symptoms are also common among many different types of vaginal infections. For this reason, it is important to avoid self-diagnosis and seek medical advice.
Recognize How a Vaginal Infection Affects Your Fertility
Most vaginal infections can affect your fertility. For instance, both STDs and bacterial vaginosis can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which has the potential to scar your reproductive organs. You should also know that having an overabundance of unhealthy bacteria in your vagina can impact sperm health as it tries to reach the egg. The infection can also be severe enough to interrupt the production of normal cervical mucus that helps guide the sperm through your reproductive system so that it can fertilize the egg.
Once you are pregnant, having this infection places you at a higher risk of having a miscarriage. It is also currently believed that the infection could be the cause of chemical pregnancies, which is when you experience a miscarriage before modern medical testing reveals that you are pregnant.
Learn How to Prevent Vaginal Infections
There are many things that you can do to protect your vaginal health and avoid the complications that can arise with major infections. Ideally, you should limit your sexual partners to only one, and use a condom during every encounter. This not only helps prevent the transmission of STDs, but it also helps prevent your partner’s bodily fluids from throwing off your vagina’s delicate balance.
You should also practice proper hygiene habits such as washing your vaginal area each day with water and an unscented, hypoallergenic soap. If you are prone to infections, always ask your physician before using any new products on your vaginal area.
Be Proactive About Testing and Exploring Your Treatment Options
Women need to know their bodies well enough to know when something is wrong. Pay attention to what your normal vaginal discharge looks and smells like. If something seems off, such as you notice a fishy odor, it is time to schedule a doctor’s appointment. This condition is diagnosed during a general gynecological exam. Your physician may be able to diagnose it on sight, or he or she may collect fluids to be sent for laboratory testing. In most cases, antibiotics are used to help reduce the population of bad bacteria so that the overall balance to your vaginal biome is restored.
Although this infection can be transmitted sexually, it most commonly occurs when something throws off the vagina’s normal bacterial balance. Always note changes in your health and talk to your physician. Treating this infection early on can help you avoid lingering painful symptoms while also preserving your fertility.