Women’s Month is such an awesome time to chat about things that affect us, as women, right? I especially love all the conversations around abuse and gender equality. But hey, if we’re going to be authentic about it and tackle real issues that women face, then why don’t I see an ode to the pain of bra-wearing? (You know what I mean, Patricia) I want to talk about important things like endometriosis and the burden of having to regularly shave your legs and things like what will help me to deal with my crazy menstrual cramps. And, I mean, if we’re REALLY going to get into it, can someone please talk about vaginal health and what it really means?
That’s right, Mary. I said vagina. Let’s not be shocked about it… I mean, it IS an important part of what makes us female. And the truth is that only 43% of women are aware of vaginal infections, such as Bacterial Vaginosis (BV), because no one wants to talk about it!
It’s not taboo. It’s not embarrassing. It’s not unnecessary. Don’t believe me? Ask the 1 in 3 women who have suffered with BV… silently, because she does not want people to think that she’s dirty. Ask the girl who has contracted sexually transmitted diseases because of the risk that an untreated BV infection has opened her up to. And ask the pregnant woman who now faces the risk of pre-term birth and low birth weight, because her untreated BV developed into pelvic inflammatory disease, putting her unborn child at risk.
BV is not that rare and vaginal infections do not mean that you are dirty, sexually promiscuous or overreacting. My friend, Amy, shares her story:
“My first infection was when i was about 16. I had just started having sex and I first noticed a slight burning sensation in my lady bits. That soon became and unbearable itch which lead to an extremely dry lady. I went to the pharmacy and was introduced to an over the counter cream that by means of an applicator you put into your vag and within a few days it cleared up.
It’s never easy to tell your doctor even if you have a great open minded person that right now in this moment, its taking every bit your dignity to sit here and admit you have a disgusting odor happening in your southern region. I have had infections that gave off an unpleasant odor. I didn’t feel attractive or social at those moments. The best treatment is to get a one application cream. I now don’t use bubble bath or any soap, only water.
If you are suffering from a vaginal infection, don’t be ashamed. You can get infection in many ways…. from something as innocent as changing your diet, to changing your washing powder. All women can be affected by infection, seek help as soon as you feel uncomfortable.”
More about Bacterial Vaginosis
Your vagina contains large amounts of beneficial bacteria and is naturally acidic, with a typical pH level of between 3.8 and 4.52. This naturally acidic environment is protective, creating a barrier against unhealthy bacteria and preventing yeast from multiplying too quickly and causing an infection.
A vagina with a pH of over 4.5 puts a woman at risk of developing an infection, as it creates an environment that can enable unhealthy bacteria to grow. When the balance of the vaginal bacteria is altered, the inside of the vagina becomes slightly less acidic, which encourages the growth of unhealthy bacteria, causing a discharge with a “fishy” odor to occur which is often watery and greyish in colour.
The good news is that with the proper diagnosis, BV can be effectively treated. Options include gels, creams and oral treatments. The ideal treatment for this uncomfortable condition needs to be one that fits into a busy and social lifestyle – a treatment that is both effective and discreet. If you suspect that you may have Bacterial Vaginosis, speak to your doctor or pharmacist or go to www.myvaginalgel.co.za for more information about this common but very treatable condition.
The post was written in collaboration with My Vaginal Gel.