Womens Health - Bacterial Vaginosis

A condition that is likely to occur in every woman over the course of their life is bacterial vaginosis. Many women have never even heard of this condition but live with the symptoms for years unaware of the simple things they can do to help themselves.  We have a very delicately balanced mix of bacteria living in the vaginal area. These can easily be disturbed creating an overgrowth of one or two types of the bacteria giving you very uncomfortable symptoms and leaving you open to more systemic imbalance and reproductive issues.  An overgrowth of bacteria can contribute to many PMT symptoms like cramps and clots and also plays a role in  more serious conditions like pelvic inflammatory disease which may lead to ectopic pregnancy and infertility.

Some causes of bacterial vaginosis include cleaning that area too thoroughly and vaginal douching; using any non natural soap/shower gel; over use of antibiotics which affect the gut microbiome; the use of intrauterine devices for contraception and the use of sanitary pads and tampons.

Typical symptoms are:
•    Vaginal discharge that smells
•    Unusually thick, white, or yellowish-green discharge with or without an odour
•    Burning, redness, and swelling in or around the vagina
•    Pain when urinating
•    Pain or discomfort during sex
•    Significant bleeding other than menstrual
If you have any of these symptoms it is important to have rule out sexually transmitted diseases. These symptoms may also occur with a general yeast infection.
You can help prevent bacterial vaginosis in some simple ways.
•    Never douche the vagina as it disturbs the balance of flora and can flush bacteria up towards the pelvic organs.
•    Only ever use natural soaps in the outer area of vagina. Over washing using alkaline soaps destroys the beneficial acidic nature of the vagina. This acidic nature and the natural mucus produced actually make the area self cleansing.
•    Avoid the overuse of antibiotics and topical gels especially for any vaginal infections. Although it may seem to help initially it creates a vicious circle.
•    Use nutrition and specific supplements to balance the gut flora.
•    Alkalise the body by adopting an alkaline diet specific for your overall needs.
•    Avoid sanitary pads and tampons at all costs. The majority of these products are made from microfibres and plastics and contain bleaches which affect the healthy vaginal flora. Organic cotton tampons are the exception but they still encourage the holding of menstrual blood in the vagina for too long a time.
•    Allow the area to breathe by wearing natural materials like cotton as underwear or going comando in warmer weather. Avoiding sanitary pads and tampons also helps with airflow.
•    Use a Moon Cup or other equivalent device for menstruation. Many women who suffer from period pain, cramps, and clots report a significant reduction when the move over to this type of product.
•    Use immune stimulant, urinary antibacterial, lymphatic and diuretic herbs internally to boost the immune system, help fight the infection and encourage detoxification. The are many different herbs we use here which need to be chosen for the individual.
•    Do herbal sitz baths using herbs like Calendula flower, Goldenseal or Yarrow .

Looking after the health of your vagina is one of the most important and self honouring things a woman can do for herself. Be good to yourself... be good to your vagina.

About Ivywood

Herbalists Ross Hennessy and Marina Kesso have moved their businesses and family to a new piece of land in Co Clare. They are busy creating new spaces on the land to reestablish their clinical practice and medicinal herb nursery. Formerly Bareroot Botanicals and Iona Herbal they have now renamed the woodland and business Ivywood.



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