CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Every year in the U.S., 21 million women are affected by Bacterial Vaginosis (BV), but only 20 percent undergo treatment and nearly half experience a recurrence of symptoms within one-year. The International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics reported that nine women’s health leaders convened to discuss the landscape of BV and identify opportunities, unmet needs and pathways to improve the quality of care for women.
Lauren Streicher, MD, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University, author of Sex Rx: Hormones, Health, and Your Best Sex Ever, discusses the root cause of common vaginal issues, why women are confused, and the right questions to ask doctors.
“Between ambiguous online resources and a lack of open dialogue about vaginal health, BV is often mistaken for a yeast infection leading to ineffective self-treatment. BV is actually more common than yeast,” says Streicher. “The high pH of menstrual fluids, sex and hormonal changes during pregnancy can trigger an imbalance, making women more susceptible to infections. So, it’s better to prevent recurrent BV by keeping the pH balanced, rather than treat it. Sometimes, the pH is ‘off’ just enough to cause symptoms, before it becomes full-blown BV, so remember to normalize the vaginal environment following the first sign of itch or odor.”
Symptoms of BV are a grayish white vaginal discharge and an unpleasant “fishy” odor, which is often the result of unbalanced pH and not poor hygiene. A healthy vaginal pH is typically 3.5 - 4.5. Beneficial (good) bacteria that protect against infections are unable to thrive if the pH is unbalanced, causing pathogenic (“bad”) bacteria to create an environment ripe for odor and other issues.
If you’re not sure whether its yeast or bacteria, see your health care provider, as BV must be treated with antibiotics, or, it can increase the risk of premature birth, pelvic inflammatory disease, and STDs.
“Odor, irritation and watery discharge aren’t normal, so get it checked out if you’re experiencing these symptoms. I advise patients to keep their vaginal pH in a healthy range by using RepHresh gel after their period or sex to help prevent recurrence,” adds Streicher.