In the simplest of terms, vaginosis is the name of a condition in which the normal balance of the vagina is disturbed, leading to discharge, pain, itching, burning and embarrassing odor. There are two types of vaginosis: bacterial vaginosis (the most common by far) and cytolytic vaginosis.
If you are diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis, you are not alone. Bacterial vaginosis is the most prevalent infection of the vagina in women of childbearing age, and is also very common during pregnancy.
The cause of bacterial vaginosis is an imbalance of bacteria in the vagina. In a healthy vagina, there are much more good bacteria than bad bacteria. When the ratio of bad bacteria to good bacteria is increased, bacterial vaginosis may develop.
Any woman may get bacterial vaginosis at any time in her life, but there are certain behaviors that can make it more likely to be contracted. These behaviors or activities include: having many new or multiple sexual partners, using vaginal douches, not cleaning after intercourse and wiping incorrectly from back to front after a bowel movement.
While women who have never had sexual intercourse may contract bacterial vaginosis, it does not come from toilet seats, swimming pools, bedding or contact with any other inanimate objects.
Cytolytic vaginosis has the same symptoms as bacterial vaginosis but is caused by an overpopulation of the lactobacilli bacteria specifically. These are usually considered good bacteria because they repel other harmful elements in the vagina, such as E. coli from stool and Candida (which causes yeast infections). Sometimes, though, the lactobacilli bacteria become out of control and begin to cause damage to vaginal cells, resulting in cytolytic vaginosis.
Symptoms of Vaginosis
The symptoms of both bacterial vaginosis and cytolytic vaginosis are the same:
- itching in the urogenital area
- pain during urination
- pain during sexual intercourse
Treatment of Vaginosis
If you suspect that you have a form of vaginosis, it is important to consult your doctor or medical professional for an official diagnosis. He or she can then prescribe appropriate treatment.
For bacterial vaginosis, treatment often consists of a topical vaginal cream, to be applied daily (usually at night) for about a week. Oral antibiotics may also be prescribed. With your doctor's permission, you may also try a home remedy for bacterial vaginosis, though this should supplement, not replace, medical treatment. Garlic (usually in tablet form) is a popular herbal remedy for bacterial vaginosis due to its antibacterial properties.
For cytolytic vaginosis, treatment aims to restore the Ph balance in the vagina, often through the use of baking soda douches or soaks. However, these should only be administered after consultation with a doctor.
Other ways to alleviate symptoms, speed healing and prevent recurrence of either bacterial or cytolytic vaginosis are to abstain from sexual intercourse until the infection passes, to wear cotton underwear and loose-fitting clothing, to avoid the use of douches (except those recommended by a doctor for treatment) and to always wipe from front to back.
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