How to understand if everything is alright? This will indicate, firstly, modest, not surprising volume of vaginal discharge, secondly, “silence at the border” (no itching in the crotch area), and thirdly, undisturbed peace in the lower abdomen. If at least one of these signs changes in the opposite direction, you should seek help from an obstetrician-gynecologist (or venereologist).
These sensations may indicate the onset of bacterial vaginosis or vaginal infection – of course, both abnormalities must be treated.
Before we start talking about the problems that force a woman to see a doctor, let’s look at what the normal state of the vagina is.
Like all open cavities of the body, it is inhabited by a variety of microorganisms. Some microbes that get on the mucous membranes, can not stay there for a long time – they are expelled by the flow of mucus or urine, and those microorganisms that are able to stay and multiply in these conditions constitute the normal vaginal microflora.
If the process of attachment and the formation of new microbes is not accompanied by inflammation, it is called colonization, if at the time of the appearance of bacteria the tissue is damaged, then it is about the development of infection.
Normal microflora protects the vagina from harmful microorganisms. It contains a lot of bacteria (108–1010 microbial cells / 1 g of secretions). First of all, the composition of microflora depends on whether a woman has problems with the monthly cycle and hormone production.
If everything is in order with both of them, the lactobacilli, which form hydrogen peroxide and protect their “home” from harmful bacteria, will settle in the vagina. In addition, they produce lactic acid, lacticidin, acidophilin and lactocin B – these substances also help to fight the “uninvited guests.”
Other bacteria live in the vagina: staphylococcus, streptococcus, intestinal or anaerobic bacteria. And sometimes they are made up of mycoplasmas, ureaplasmas, and gardnerella.
However, having learned about it, you should not worry: the main thing is that these microorganisms are in the right proportion with each other. As long as the balance between them is not broken, they will not create problems.
If for some reason the living conditions in the vagina change, for example, during pregnancy, this may result in the appearance of the disease.
Surprisingly, even a change in sexual partner can lead to the appearance of bacterial vaginosis. The fact is that sperm alters the pH level in the vagina, bringing with it alkali, while the reproduction of beneficial lactobacilli requires an acidic environment.
The composition of the microflora of our secluded places varies depending on the age and hormonal changes in the woman’s body.
In newborn girls, the microflora of the mother’s vagina remains the first 5–6 days.
During the one-month cycle, young women who are ready to conceive a child change both the quantity and quality of the germs in the vagina. So, at the time of menstruation and after love contacts, the number of lactobacilli decreases, and the intestinal bacteria, enterococci and streptococci become larger.
During menopause, the number of lactobacilli decreases, and since at this age staphylococci, streptococci, intestinal bacteria can settle in the vagina, women are recommended to take special hormones. They help lactobacilli to multiply and fight off harmful microbes.
The main mistake of most women is self-treatment. Having bought pills or candles at the pharmacy on the advice of friends or based on her own experience, the ladies themselves prescribe doses of medications and duration of treatment.
Needless to say, this approach is unlikely to help cope with the disease quickly and efficiently?
As mentioned above, because of violations in the microflora of the vagina may appear such trouble as bacterial vaginosis. This disease does not apply to sexually transmitted infections.
It usually begins when the normal microflora of the vagina, consisting mainly of lactobacilli, is supplanted by those types of bacteria that must be present in the vagina in small quantities.
How does bacterial vaginosis manifest? As a rule, he declares himself an abundant liquid discharge with an unpleasant smell, reminiscent of spoiled fish.
To cure the disease, the doctor will need to find and eliminate the cause of its occurrence, in addition, the doctor will prescribe the patient drugs to combat harmful bacteria and means that will help restore the normal vaginal microflora. With regard to the prevention of bacterial vaginosis, experts advise women to be less nervous, to monitor hormonal changes in the body, not to wear too tight clothing between the legs (for example, jeans), synthetic underwear and tights without cotton crotch.
In addition, you should not get involved in a thorough and deep toilet of the vagina, because attempts to flush it from the inside, for example, using a syringe, can lead to the fact that normal bacteria will just be washed out of their shelter. Do not forget that the appearance of imbalance in the vagina can lead to treatment with antibiotics.
Bacterial vaginosis and most vaginal infections do not belong to sexually transmitted diseases. That is why the partner is usually not prescribed any treatment.
However, if a man develops unpleasant sensations (itching, burning, a small rash on the genitals), he will also have to consult a doctor.
And what happens if representatives of the normal microflora of the vagina fail to cope with the appearance of harmful bacteria? In this case, a woman can get into trouble: thrush (another name is vulvovaginal candidiasis, candidiasis, mycosis), trichomonas or nonspecific colpitis.
Let’s talk about each of them in more detail.
1. According to statistics, about 70% of women have been treated for thrush at least once in their lives. At the same time, 40–50% of the fair sex had repeated outbreaks of the disease, and 5% had an unpleasant chronic form of candidiasis. The disease occurs due to hormonal disruptions in the body, as a result of weakened immunity, after treatment with antibiotics.
Usually, fungi that live in the body, for example in the intestines, act as the causative agent of thrush. However, sometimes candidates are transferred from partner to partner. While there are few yeast-like fungi in the vagina, they do not cause problems.
If for some reason they begin to multiply, the woman appears “cheesy” (thick and with flakes) discharge of white color, severe itching in the genital area, and sometimes even a burning sensation at the moment of going to the toilet “in a small way”. In men, Candida causes inflammation of the glans penis, foreskin and urinary organs.
The appearance of most vaginal infections is not a reason to suspect a partner of infidelity. After all, even elementary fatigue or experienced emotional shock (stress) can cause trouble.
2. Nonspecific (bacterial) vaginitis, or colpitis, begins due to the multiplication of harmful microorganisms – staphylococci, streptococci, intestinal bacteria, mycoplasmas. As a result, the woman has an unusual vaginal discharge: yellow, with pus.
In addition, the patient may complain that she often has to run to the toilet “in a small way”, and during sexual intercourse there is pain.
3. Trichomoniasis (trichomonas vaginitis, or colpitis) refers to sexually transmitted diseases. It is caused by the simplest parasites – Trichomonas, which can be found on wet towels, swimsuits or toilets.
The onset of the disease is characterized by itching, burning in the vaginal area, pain at the time of visiting the toilet “in a small way”. Plus, the woman appears abundant, white, sometimes frothy discharge with an unpleasant smell.