Certain signs may mean you don't have the right number of healthy bacteria in your vagina!
Discharge that is abnormal for you is the first sign! Look for any changes in the volume, color, or odor of vaginal discharge. Other signs can include
●Pruritus or itching
●Stinging or Burning
●Irritation, on the outside or on the inside
●Redness, also called erythema, or swelling or tenderness to touch the genital tissues
●Painful, uncomfortable, or dryness with sex.
●Spotting, bleeding, not related to your menstrual period
●Almost any bladder symptom, including painful urination called dysuria
The cells that line the vagina in premenopausal women are rich in the bacterial food source glycogen. The glycogen feeds the so called good bacteria Döderlein's lactobacilli, which convert glucose into lactic acid, thereby creating an acidic vaginal environment (pH 4.0 to 4.5)that drives down the numbers of unhealthy bacteria.. This acidity helps maintains what is called the normal vaginal flora and inhibits growth of pathogenic organisms. Disruption of the normal ecosystem can lead to conditions favorable for development of vaginitis. Some of these potentially disruptive factors include phase of the menstrual cycle, sexual activity, contraceptive choice, pregnancy, foreign bodies, estrogen level, sexually transmitted diseases, the use of hygienic products, low hormone levels, thinning of the cell lining of the vagina, or antibiotics. Control of yeast infections, and control of bacterial infections means that the healthy bacteria of the vagina have to be present. Women need a lot of Lactobacillus to have a healthy vaginal environment, approximately 1 million bacteria per mL of vaginal fluid! The Lactobacillus is present in much greater concentration than other 'good bacteria which are only present in a concentration of about 1000 bacteria per mL of vaginal fluid. We have treatments, evaluation, and often research studies to help you decide what may be right for your body. If you are interested, please call the Clinical Research Division of Women's Health Practice at 217-356-3736