What’s up with BV?
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is a common condition caused by changes in the amount of certain types of bacteria in your vagina. BV isn’t an infection with a specific bacteria or yeast, rather it’s an imbalance in the vagina’s own bacterial communities in which the beneficial organisms aren’t as robust, leading to an overgrowth of the “bad” bacteria.
Almost 30 percent of women between the ages of 20 and 50 have BV. Unfortunately, conventional doctors know surprisingly little about how to treat BV outside of prescribing antibiotics, which often don’t work and can lead to multiple rounds of treatment which may reduce the overgrowth of the annoying bacteria, but don’t help to reset vaginal ecology. And because antibiotics can wipe out even more good microorganisms along with the bad, they often make the problem worse.
Causes of BV
The thing about BV is it can be the result of disruption in the body’s local (vaginal) OR the broader microbial (usually gut) ecosystem. So it’s important to remember that the gut and the vagina are connected. As such, common causes of BV may include:
- Intestinal bacterial overgrowth
- High sugar diet
- Alcohol consumption
- Poorly controlled blood sugar
- Exposure to synthetic chemicals and fragrances
- Antibiotic use
- Exposure to semen or saliva
Symptoms of BV
BV symptoms may be similar to vaginal yeast infections and other health problems (such as STIs). Only your doctor or nurse can tell you for sure whether you have BV. That said, common symptoms may include:
- Unusual vaginal discharge
- A strong fish-like odor, especially after sex
- Vaginal irritation
- Itching around the outside of the vagina
- Burning when urinating
Is BV serious?
Besides being seriously uncomfortable and frustrating, BV is important to treat because it disrupts vaginal pH and vaginal mucous - the job of which is to protect against infections such as STIs. BV is also associated with abnormal Pap smears, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which can cause fertility problems and ectopic pregnancy, and endometritis (inflammation in the lining of the uterus). It can also be dangerous for pregnant women, as BV is associated with increased risk of second-trimester miscarriage, preterm labor, and post-partum endometritis.
So what’s a gal to do?
Now that you understand the underlying cause of BV – disruption in the vaginal microbiome (and potentially gut microbiome) – you can keep your vaginal bacteria balanced by:
- Taking high quality probiotics - remember the gut vagina connection
- Using personal cleansing products that keep vaginal pH balanced - avoid chemicals and don’t douche
- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle - good diet, quality rest and well-managed stress
- Treating infections with boric acid
Boric acid? Wait, what?
Boric acid is a mineral found in sea water that has antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties that work to relieve infections by bringing your vaginal pH back to its normal range, allowing for an environmental reset.
Taken as a suppository (inserted inside the vagina), boric acid can be used for spot treatments when things feel a little “off” as well as for full courses of treatment.
According to Dr. Lindsay Appel,friend of Love Wellness and OB/GYN, “Boric acid suppositories are an excellent alternative for women who have failed traditional treatment methods for bacterial and yeast infections, or suffer from recurrent infection. One of the difficulties I have had in prescribing boric acid is that it often needs to be either purchased at a compounding pharmacy or made into a capsule by the patient herself which can be burdensome, especially because many women would like to be discreet when performing vaginal hygiene.”
To address the issue of accessibility, and to provide women with fast-acting yet gentle relief of yeast infections and BV, Love Wellness has developed personal care products to support women on their individual journeys towards establishing, maintaining and optimizing gut and intimate health. As a bonus, women can rest assured that they can have the support they need without the use of cheap drugstore products - OR a prescription.
The pH of the vagina is extremely important in overall health. If you suspect you have BV, see a doctor and empower yourself with good gut health, total body care and boric acid suppositories to balance your vaginal microbiome.