What is BV and how to stop the cycle

3 min read

About the Author

Kate graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from San Diego State University. She is the Content Manager at Uqora and is responsible for Uqora's social media, newsletters and contributing to the UTI Learning Center.

More about this author

About the author

Kate graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from San Diego State University. She is the Content Manager at Uqora and is responsible for Uqora's social media, newsletters and contributing to the UTI Learning Center.

More about this author

Bacterial vaginosis, or BV, is an inflammatory condition resulting from the overgrowth of "bad" bacteria in the vagina. BV is the most common vaginal condition in women ages 15-44.

 

Let's breakdown the symptoms, causes and, of course, solutions to put BV behind you, for good.

How do I know if I have BV?

BV symptoms include abnormal vaginal discharge, pain, itching, or burning in or around the outside of the vagina, a strong odor or burning during urination.

What causes it?

BV occurs when there is an imbalance of bacteria in the vaginal microbiome. A healthy vaginal microbiome is dominated by bacteria called lactobacillus. This good bacteria works by regulating your vaginal pH. If there is a rise in pH, this can allow for an overgrowth of the "bad" bacteria. A strain of this "bad" bacteria is G. vaginalis, and is a common cause of BV.

 

A change in your vaginal pH can occur in a variety of ways including your diet, sexual activity or a change in estrogen levels (i.e. during menopause or your period).

What are the risks?

Aside from the uncomfortable symptoms, studies have shown that women with BV have anywhere from 2-13x increased risk of contracting a UTI.

Antibiotics for UTI treatment can then in turn disrupt the vaginal microbiome further, causing pH to rise and therefore increasing your risk of BV.

And, the cycle goes round and round.

How do I stop it?

The cycle of BV is without a doubt a frustrating one and can be difficult to break out of, especially if it is causing recurrent UTIs. To help break the cycle, it all comes down to restoring the vaginal microbiome and balancing your pH levels. A few tips to help do so include:

 

Vaginal hygiene

While the vagina is self-cleansing, for those that are more prone to infection it is helpful to be as proactive as possible. This can include vaginal wipes after intimacy, workouts or during your period when the possibility of bacteria being introduced is more likely.

 

It’s also important to avoid scented or harsh soaps and opt for hypoallergenic, paraben-free and unscented mild soaps. Some have even commented switching to hypoallergenic detergent has helped avoid potential irritation, and being mindful of their underwear and lubricant choices.

 

Balance the vaginal microbiome

Taking a vaginal probiotic will help your body restore lactobacilli at a faster rate. These lactobacilli are your body’s natural defense against an overgrowth of harmful bacteria working to keep your vaginal microbiome in balance.

 

Be mindful of your diet

It is shown that certain foods can affect the body’s pH levels. Some foods that have been known to cause irritation include: sugar and processed foods, alcohol, caffeine and high meat consumption. Eating foods that are rich in probiotics like kombucha and yogurt, and apple cider vinegar can prevent imbalance, as well as garlic which is a natural anti-fungal.

 

As studies have shown, the vaginal microbiome is directly correlated to urinary health. If you’re struggling with BV, it’s important to take a holistic approach and find ways to not only balance your vaginal microbiome but be diligent in your urinary health practices.


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