Much like anywhere else in the body, there is a fine mix of good bacteria and bad bacteria in the vagina. When this balance gets out of whack, though, the result can be illness. Bacterial vaginosis is one of the most common vaginal infections women of childbearing age experience and is actually linked to a number of different factors. However, if you understand the condition, you’ll be better prepared to avoid it.
What Is Bacterial Vaginosis?
Considered a mild infection of the vagina, bacterial vaginosis or BV is an issue caused by bacteria. While the good bacteria help control the bad bacteria in a healthy body, that balance can be upset, causing too much bad bacteria.
How Do You Know If You Have BV?
A number of different vaginal conditions can cause concern, so it can be difficult to identify whether you have bacterial vaginosis or another condition. Knowing the most common signs of the issue, though, tends to help. The main sign or symptom of BV is vaginal discharge that is watery or thin, gray to white in color, and has a strong and unpleasant or almost fishy smell. Additional symptoms include burning during urination, itching outside the vagina, and fatigue.
What Causes BV?
While the root cause of BV is an upset in the natural balance of bacteria in the body, even experts cannot identify exactly what causes the onset of the imbalance. In any case, however, a number of factors have been identified that may contribute to the onset of the condition.
1. Lifestyle Choices
A number of lifestyle choices can lead to vaginal issues. Having more than one or a new sex partner is one contributing factor. Likewise, smoking and other lifestyle choices may also lead to changes in vaginal health.
2. Hygiene Practices
Maintaining hygiene practices is important to supporting vaginal health; however, some practices may also lead to the development of the condition. Douching and other hygiene practices have been identified as potential contributing factors. This and other practices offset the natural pH in the vagina, which may contribute to the imbalanced production of bacteria. Additionally, a lack of hygienic practices can also contribute to the condition.
3. Genetic Factors
As frustrating as it is, some women just don’t produce enough of the “good” bacteria naturally. This imbalance in production is a key factor to the onset of the condition.
4. Dietary Choices
While candida, a different form of infection that can affect vaginal health, is more directly linked with dietary choices, diet may also affect bacterial vaginosis. The old adage “you are what you eat” holds true in many cases of health conditions, and BV is no different. A diet high in sugar and simple carbohydrates that lacks whole foods and natural “good” bacteria is a key contributor to bacterial vaginosis and other issues with vaginal health.
As common as bacterial vaginosis is, research is inconclusive as to the actual cause of the condition. If you are dealing with recurrent BV, consider the potential causal factors and make a few changes to see if anything helps. Also, take a look at our extensive page of natural remedies for BV for additional suggestions for treatment.