Causes of Bacterial Vaginosis
Bacterial vaginosis occurs when the pH of the vagina is out of balance, allowing normally present anaerobic bacteria to grow out of control.
It doesn't cause inflammation or itching - the most common complaint is a grayish discharge and/or a foul, "fishy" odor. It usually affects women of reproductive age. That's a difference between a yeast infection and bacterial vaginosis, a candida yeast infection doesn't usually present with a foul odor, but frequently a thick "cheesy" discharge.
"I bathe every day. How did I get bacterial vaginosis?"
Usually it's not due to lack of bathing, although if you bathe infrequently enough, it could cause problems.
Your vagina is self regulating, and self cleaning. All you really need to clean your private parts is warm water and maybe a bit of mild soap around the outside areas, never inside the folds of skin.
We've all heard it before, but just to be clear, in case anyone missed it - after using the toilet always wipe front to back!
There are other factors aside from cleanliness, which alone or combined make a woman more susceptible to bacterial vaginosis. Read on.
The vagina is a remarkable little ecosystem. It needs to maintain a very certain pH (slightly acidic) to remain healthy.
A healthy vagina is naturally home to a number of microorganisms. These are mostly bacteria, "good bacteria", which keep bad bacteria at bay, protecting your reproductive system. These good bacteria are called lactobacilli. Yes indeed - the same organisms found in yogurt.
Taking antibiotics disrupts the balance of internal flora and can be a cause of developing bacterial vaginosis.
Diabetics are also more susceptible, as is anyone with a weakened immune system.
Douching can also disrupt the delicate natural balance of the vagina. Douching should not be used as a form of hygiene. It should only be used as a treatment for an imbalance (such as a raw apple cider douche or a tea tree oil douche). Never use perfumed douches, common sense should tell us that those substances do not belong inside the body.
In a healthy vagina the lactobacilli bacteria help to maintain a perfectly acidic environment - around 3.8 - 4.5 pH. In comparison, a glass of pure water has a pH of 7, which is neutral. Anything above 7 is more alkaline, anything less than 7 is more acidic.
Causes of Bacterial Vaginosis - SEX
We're going to get a little graphic here - you've been warned.
Sexual intercourse can cause bacterial vaginosis as well (though virgins can also develop it). In what ways can sex cause bacterial vaginosis? There are actually a few ways:
Oral sex: Saliva can alter the pH of the vagina, making it more alkaline.
Sperm: The pH of normal semen is slightly alkaline, ranging from 7.2 to 7.8. So, after intercourse the vagina has to "work overtime" to regain its acidic balance, which is why sometimes after sex there can be a temporary increase in odor.
Multiple partners: each man's semen is slightly different, so the vaginal ecosystem will be continually "surprised".
Anal sex: (especially when performed before traditional intercourse). One can only imagine what e. Coli and other "bad bacteria" found in feces can do.
Be smart. Have fun but be aware of the possibilities and take necessary steps to maintain your own healthy vaginal ecosystem.