Vaginal Health

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Vaginal Health


Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis isn’t a sexually transmitted infection. It is an imbalance of the usual bacteria found in a woman’s vagina that affects women and can cause an abnormal vaginal discharge which has an unpleasant fishy smell

For further information NHS inform.
How do you get it?
Bacteria called lactobacilli naturally live in your vagina and stop other bacteria from growing there. It’s not fully understood why, but sometimes the balance of these bacteria changes. If this happens you can develop bacterial vaginosis in this condition, bacteria other than lactobacilli overgrow in the vagina and usually cause symptoms.
Bacterial vaginosis can’t be passed from person to person but it is more common in people who are sexually active.
Other things that may increase your risk of getting it include:

  • Having a new sexual partner
  • Having multiple sexual partners
  • Smoking
  • Using scented soaps or perfumed bubble bath
  • Putting antiseptic liquids in the bath
  • Douching (washing or cleaning out the vagina with water or other fluids)
  • Using vaginal deodorant
  • Using strong detergents to wash your underwear

How do I know if I have Bacterial Vaginosis?
Often there are no symptoms of bacterial vaginosis, but some women may notice a change in the normal discharge from the vagina.

This discharge will usually be white or grey, thin or watery and have a strong, unpleasant fishy smell, which can be more noticeable during and after sex, and during periods.

Bacterial vaginosis does not usually cause itching or irritation.
How do they test for Bacterial vaginosis?
If you are worried that you may have bacterial vaginosis, visit your GP or sexual health service. The nurse or doctor may use a swab to collect a sample of the discharge from your vagina.

A swab looks a bit like a cotton bud and collecting a sample only takes a few minutes. Although not painful, it may be a little uncomfortable for a moment. A specially coated paper may be used to test the pH (alkaline/acid balance) of your vagina.

Sometimes a diagnosis can be made straightaway because of the distinctive appearance of the discharge or sometimes the sample will be sent to a lab for testing.

If the doctor suspects you may have an STI they may do more tests.
What is the treatment?

Bacterial vaginosis is treated with antibiotics. An antibiotic cream or gel to use in the vagina may be given instead of antibiotic tablets by mouth.

You can still have sex whilst you are being treated for bacterial vaginosis because it is not sexually transmitted, however antibiotics and cream can affect condoms and other contraception so speak to your doctor or pharmacist who can give you more information.

Partners do not usually need treatment.
How do I avoid getting Bacterial Vaginosis?
The causes of bacterial vaginosis are not fully understood, so it may not be possible to completely prevent it. However, you may be able to lower your risk of developing it by:

  • Not using scented soaps and perfumed bubble bath
  • Not using vaginal deodorant
  • Not douching (washing or cleaning out your vagina)
  • Not putting antiseptic liquids in the bath
  • Not using strong detergent

For more information visit NHS inform

Vaginal Dryness

Vaginal dryness is a common problem that many women have at some point in their lives. But there are things that can help.
What are the symptoms of vaginal dryness?
You may have vaginal dryness if you:

  • feel sore or itchy in and around your vagina
  • feel pain or discomfort during sex
  • need to pee more often than usual
  • keep getting Urinary tract infections (UTI’s)

 These things may make you feel less like you want to have sex.
What are the causes of vaginal dryness?
You can get vaginal dryness if you:

  • go through the menopause
  • are breastfeeding
  • take contraceptive pills or antidepressants
  • have your womb removed (a hysterectomy)
  • have cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy or treatments that block some hormones

These things can cause a change in your hormone levels. This change can affect how much vaginal discharge or fluid you have.
You can also have vaginal dryness if you:

  • aren't aroused during sex
  • use perfumed soaps, washes or douches in and around your vagina
  • have an underlying condition, such as diabetes


Things you can try yourself
You can try these things before you see a GP. You can get most of them from a pharmacy without a prescription.

  •  use water-based lubricants before sex – put these in and around your vagina or on your partner's penis
  • use vaginal moisturisers for vaginal dryness – you can put these inside your vagina to keep it moist
  • use unperfumed soaps and washes around your vagina
  • try to enjoy more foreplay so you're more aroused during sex


  • do not use perfumed soaps, washes and any douches in and around your vagina
  • do not put creams or lotions like petroleum jelly inside your vagina as it can cause an infection
  • do not use moisturisers that aren't for your vagina

See a GP if:

  • it's been a few weeks and things you can try yourself aren't working
  • it's affecting your daily life
  • you have unusual discharge or bleeding from your vagina
  • you have bleeding after sex or in between your periods
  • If you're getting vaginal dryness because of changes in your hormone levels due to the menopause , you may be prescribed creams, gels, patches or medicines to increase a hormone called oestrogen. This is called HRT



Thrush is usually caused by a yeast fungus called candida albicans. This yeast usually lives harmlessly on the skin and in the mouth, gut and vagina. Occasionally, however, signs and symptoms can develop. This is commonly known as thrush, thrush infection or candida.

What causes thrush to develop?
 Your chances of developing thrush increase if you:

  • are pregnant
  • wear tight clothing (such as tight jeans) or synthetic clothing (such as nylon underwear)
  • are taking antibiotics
  • are having chemotherapy
  • have uncontrolled diabetes, HIV or other illnesses that affect your immune system
  • use products that may irritate the vagina, such as vaginal deodorant or perfumed bubble bath or shower gel.

 What are the signs and symptoms of thrush?
Some people won’t have any signs or symptoms at all. If you do get symptoms  you might notice:

  • itching,
  • soreness and redness or fissures (like paper cuts) around the vagina, vulva (the opening to the vagina and urethra, the labia (vaginal lips) and the clitoris) or anus.
  • unusual, white discharge from the vagina that may be thick and look like cottage cheese – it sometimes smells yeasty
  • pain when passing urine or having sex

How will I know if I have thrush?
 If you think you may have thrush, speak to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist. Thrush isn’t a sexually transmitted infection but it’s important you don’t delay getting advice if you may have been at risk of a sexually transmitted infection.

What does a test involve?
It’s not always necessary to have a test for thrush. If you do have a test, a doctor or nurse may:

  • look at the genital area,
  • use a swab to collect a sample from the vagina
  • A swab looks like a cotton bud, but is smaller, soft and rounded.
  • The swab is wiped over the parts of the body that could be affected and easily picks up samples.
  • It only takes a few seconds and isn’t usually painful, though it may be uncomfortable for a moment.

Where can I get a test?

  • You can have a test as soon as you have signs and symptoms. A test can be done at:
  • Make an appointment with your GP or contact sexual health services.

What’s the treatment for thrush?

  • Treatment is simple and only necessary if you have signs and symptoms of thrush.
  • You may be given antifungal cream to apply to the genital area, vaginal pessaries (tablets that you put into your vagina), pills or a combination.
  • The doctor or nurse will tell you how to use the treatment.
  •  You can buy some antifungal treatments from a pharmacy – these are useful if you’re sure you have thrush and want to treat it yourself. The pharmacist will answer any questions and explain how to use the treatment.
  • It’s very important to take the treatment as instructed and finish any course of treatment even if the symptoms go away earlier.
  • Some antifungal products can weaken latex condoms, diaphragms and caps.
  • Ask the doctor, nurse or pharmacist for advice. Tell the doctor, nurse or pharmacist if you’re pregnant, might be pregnant, or if you’re breastfeeding. This may affect the type of treatment you’re given.

Some situations seem to make my thrush worse, is there anything I can do?

  • Some people find that different triggers cause vaginal thrush. If you notice a pattern, you may be able to help control it. For example:
  • avoid wearing tight, restrictive or synthetic clothing, such as tights, nylon underwear, leggings, lycra shorts, and tight jeans or trousers
  •  make sure your vagina is well lubricated before and during sexual intercourse
  • wash and wipe your genital area from front to back
  • avoid using soap and deodorants near the genital area, genital sprays, bubble bath, and any other irritants such as disinfectants and antiseptics
  • If you’re prescribed an antibiotic for another condition, remind your doctor that you tend to get thrush and ask for some treatment for thrush at the same time.

I get thrush regularly, is there anything that can help?

  • Some people may only get thrush once. Others may get it multiple times. Getting thrush four or more times in a year is called recurrent thrush. If this happens, get medical advice and don’t treat it yourself. If you get recurrent thrush the doctor or nurse:
  •  will want to check that other conditions, such as diabetes, aren’t the cause of the thrush
  • may suggest you take antifungal treatment on a regular basis may check the thrush isn’t being caused by a different kind of yeast
  • may suggest you stop using soap and use an emollient (soap substitute) instead will help you to identify any thrush triggers

What happens if thrush isn’t treated?

  • For many people thrush goes away by itself.

Will my partner(s) need treatment?
There’s no need for a partner to have treatment unless they have signs and symptoms.