If you’ve ever had Bacterial Vaginosis (BV), you may have found that it returned after it was treated for the first time. This is extremely common and some women struggle to get rid of it completely. Below, we’ve explored why your BV might be coming back again and again, and what you can do about it.
Why do I keep getting BV?
There are some lifestyle habits that could be affecting how often you contract BV. It’s thought that your age, whether you smoke and your choice of contraception could all have an impact on if and how frequently the infection comes back. Below, we’ve looked at some of the more common reasons your BV might be returning and how you may be able to stop it.
Ideally, you shouldn’t use overly scented products as they can throw the natural bacterial flora in the vagina out of balance, which can result in BV. With this in mind, you should avoid using products such as scented toilet paper, tampons or pads. If you refrain from using all of these and you’re still getting BV, maybe think about switching from unscented tampons to sanitary pads. Tampons can alter the natural balance of the vagina and make you more likely to get an infection.
You should never use scented soaps, body washes or deodorants on your vagina as these can also alter your natural pH balance.
Smoking can decrease your body’s natural production of oestrogen, and this can result in vaginal health problems, including BV or vaginal dryness. If you can, try to give up smoking. To start you off, take a look at this article from the NHS about reasons to quit smoking.
Most forms of contraception won’t make you more likely to contract BV. However, if you have an intrauterine device (IUD) fitted in your womb, you may find that you get it more than you used to. This is usually because the IUD causes irregular bleeding. This bleeding can create an imbalance in the vagina which may then lead to an infection.
Regular changes in sexual partners can lead to BV. If you have a new sexual partner, it can take your body a while to adjust to the change. This change can alter the bacteria in your vagina and make you prone to more infections. Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done to avoid this. If you are regularly changing sexual partners, then it’s always advised to use a condom to protect you from infections, such as sexually transmitted infections.
How to prevent BV
There are some things you may be able to try to prevent BV from coming back.
Instead of using soaps or body washes that contain strong fragrances to try and clean the area, you could switch to a soap-free wash foam. A foam that’s specifically made for delicate areas can help nourish your vagina and help it to stay balanced with good bacteria.
You may not use strongly scented products directly on your vaginal area, but have you ever thought about the type of washing powder you use on your underwear? When you’re washing your underwear, try to use an unscented detergent. You should also wear cotton knickers to allow the area to breathe.
After you’ve been to the toilet, you should always wipe from front to back. Doing so will prevent any bacteria from getting into your vagina, which could cause a vaginal infection.
Does BV ever go away?
Your BV will go away as long as you persist with treatment and take the advice in the section above, and from your own doctor, about how to prevent it from coming back.
No matter what BV treatment you’re using, make sure that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. For example, if it advises to apply the gel twice a day, then make sure you do it twice a day - once a day might not be enough to fully fight the infection, meaning it’s more likely to return. Don’t stop your treatment before the end of the course either. If you’ve been prescribed antibiotics for BV, you should keep taking them until you run out instead of stopping early. If some of the bad bacteria remains in your vagina, the BV will likely return.
Will BV go away on its own?
It’s unlikely that BV will go away on its own: it’s an infection that needs to be treated. Without treatment, the bad bacteria in your vagina that are causing the problem won’t be reduced enough to restore a healthy balance. Instead, you need to restore the natural balance by allowing the good bacteria to outweigh the bad.