Bacterial Vaginosis increasingly causing problems
The correct type of bacteria for the vagina – strains of the species Lactobacillus, which make lactic acid and keep the vagina slightly acid, holding pathogens in check.
Research from Australia followed women across a year, with 3 monthly swabs. Those having unprotected sex, lose Lactobacillii, and gain some pathogens. These cause Bacterial Vaginosis (BV), which increases the risk of a number of diseases, from chlamydia to gonorrhoea and herpes, including a doubling of the risk of HIV. Women with BV who are pregnant are more likely to have miscarriages and underweight babies.
As well as a decline in good bacteria, women with BV build a bacterial microbiome film on their vaginal wall. This prevents the body’s immune system from attacking the bad bacteria (1). It also restricts the action of antibiotics. This imbalance in the bacteria can cause a discharge and a distinctly fishy smell.
About 12 per cent of women in Australia and 30 per cent of American women have BV. In Africa this figure rises to 50 per cent and is believed to linked to the rise of HIV.
Males who have been circumcised carry far less pathogens and put their women at less risk of Bacterial Vaginosis.
Drugs are not much use – they clear the problem up for a few months but then it returns. Douching, using soap or special compounds does not seem to help either and clean water seems the best solution. Taking Lactobacillus strains may well help.