Find Your Balance

Women's Health South Africa|August 2020

Find Your Balance
V bad news... Docs are noticing an uptick in infections, er, downstairs – not to mention the recurrence of them. But you don’t have to suffer any longer: we’ve got the deets on treatments for each one. Sweet relief!
Amelia Harnish

If you find you’re clocking more time than usual in vagina-related vent seshes with your girlfriends and are nearing texting status with your gynae, you’re not alone. The most common diagnoses causing agonising symptoms below the belt – that is, vaginitis infections – are creeping up across the board. Oh, and they’re coming back again and again... And again.

“The trifecta of conditions under this umbrella are bacterial vaginosis (BV), yeast infections and trichomoniasis – and docs are seeing a rise in all three,” says gynaecologist Dr Natasha Johnson.

The scary culprit behind the increase: drug-resistant strains of the infection-causing bugs are becoming more prevalent. Any time you use antimicrobial meds (i.e. antibiotics), there’s a chance that some of the microbes will develop defences against the drug and not die (the opposite of what you want). The tough little buggers then multiply and spread. This means the prescriptions we’ve relied on for years are no longer as effective, which in turn means the infections take longer to treat and symptoms are more likely to return. (Up to 58 percent of women treated for bacterial vaginosis experienced it again within a year, per one study.)

Oof, right? Thankfully, all three issues are still treatable – and with this guide, you’ll be able to handle each one so it doesn’t come back to haunt you.

BACTERIAL VAGINOSIS

BV happens when vaginal pH is out of whack, leading to an imbalance in your normal bacteria. A new sexual partner, your period or putting products in the vagina all mess with pH and it’s difficult to reset the flora once disrupted. Johnson says that up to 30 percent of BV infections recur within three months.

SPOT IT

Strong fishy odour and thin grey discharge. Itching is possible, but it’s less intense than with a yeast infection.

AVOID AN ENCORE

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August 2020