Okay, it’s a little uncomfortable to talk about, but yeast infections and vaginal odor are problems just about every woman deals with at one point or another. Learn the facts about these ailments and get strategies for feeling better faster:
- Vaginal odor isn’t usually caused by poor hygiene. There’s no need to feel dirty when you discover a strong or unpleasant odor “down there.” Vaginal odor is rarely caused by poor hygiene – it’s more likely the result of unbalanced pH. The pH of a healthy vagina is typically 3.5 to 4.5. Beneficial bacteria that protect against infections thrive in this slightly acidic type of environment. When the pH balance is off, it can allow pathogenic (or “bad”) bacteria to gain a foothold, which creates an environment that odor and infection can thrive in.
- Yeast infections are common. If you’ve had a yeast infection, you are definitely not alone. Women and girls of all ages can get them. In fact, 75 percent of all women will experience a yeast infection at some point during their lives, and 50 percent of all women will experience two or more yeast infections.
- But not as common as bacterial vaginosis. Even more common than a yeast infection is bacterial vaginosis (BV). Two-thirds of women who believe they have a yeast infection actually have BV. Both BV and yeast infections can be caused by an upset in the vagina’s pH balance, and the two conditions have similar symptoms. A yeast infection can cause itching and burning with an odorless vaginal discharge that is sometimes thick. Symptoms of BV are a grayish white vaginal discharge and an unpleasant “fishy” odor. If you’re not sure, it’s vital to see your gynecologist, as BV must be treated with antibiotics. If left untreated, BV can increase the risk of premature birth, pelvic inflammatory disease, and sexually transmitted diseases.
- The pH balance of your vagina is easily disrupted. Having your period, engaging in sex, and experiencing hormonal fluctuations can all upset the pH balance of your vagina, as can birth control pills, exercise, feminine deodorants, pregnancy, stress, and soap.
- Keep your vagina healthy with these simple strategies. A pH imbalance and related infections can happen to anyone. Your best defense is to maintain a healthy vaginal pH.