What To Do When You Get Bacterial Infections Down There All The Time

Dear Heather,

I get bacterial infections down there all the time after having sex with my boyfriend, and I don’t know why. We’ve been together for two years and haven’t been with other people. We’re both clean and have been tested. We don’t use condoms but I’m on birth control. I don’t get why I keep getting irritated down there. Please help me.

tina fey gif

The vagina is a tricky and complicated little body part that can be awesome… or can make your life a nightmare. One example of the evil side of your vag is something like a bacterial infection, which can cause an excess amount of discharge, a funky smell, painful urination, and maybe some itching. Why are you getting this all the time? Let’s talk to a legit doctor about this one.

Since I know a lot about the vagina but am not a medical expert, I enlisted the help of my friend Dr. Sherry Ross from the site HelloFlo (a monthly period care package you need to check out) to give us some answers. Dr. Ross explains, “The vagina normally has a healthy balance of bacteria protecting it from abnormal bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections. Anything upsetting this sensitive balance including antibiotics, douching, spermicides, sex toys, pregnancy, breastfeeding, menopause, illness, stress, and new sexual partners commonly causes this type of vaginal infection.” Clearly, there are a lot of different things that can affect the delicate balance down there.

One of the first steps to fixing this issue is to confirm that what you have is definitely a bacterial infection. The symptoms can be similar to those of a yeast infection or STD, so just be sure. Dr. Ross says, “Symptoms of a bacterial vaginosis infection include a thin, grayish-white discharge with a strong and foul smelling fishy odor. During sex, the mixture of the ejaculate and this bacteria create the “classic” fish smell. Diagnosis is confirmed by your healthcare provider performing a vaginal culture.” If your symptoms line up with those, don’t just assume that’s what it is – go to the doctor to be sure.

Want to get rid of the infection? Dr. Ross says, “Treatment includes a vaginal or oral medication.” You can’t get this medication unless you go to the doctor, so go! And if you know this happens a lot, ask her for some refills so you don’t have to run to her any time. Unfortunately, Dr. Ross points out that “About 50 percent of women treated will have a recurrent infection within one year, which makes bacterial vaginosis challenging.”

And don’t worry, you’re certainly not alone. Dr. Ross says, “Many women have recurrent bacterial vaginosis for months and months despite being treated properly. Sometimes it’s impossible to understand why this happens. It sounds like you and your boyfriend have great hygiene, which is ideal. If a risk factor can be found such as using sex toys or douching, it’s helpful to remove those behaviors. Often creative preventative measures such as vaginal probiotics, herbs, and prophylaxis treatments are necessary. If you are having recurring bacterial infections, I suggest working with your healthcare provider to get rid of it once and for all.”

It’s frustrating to hear that doctors don’t always know how to treat and prevent bacterial vaginosis, but there are things you can try. As Dr. Ross said, you might want to start taking a probiotic like acidophilus. Make sure to stay clean before and after having sex. It could even be caused by lube that is irritating you. And you might want to try using condoms to see if that helps. Good luck!

take care,

What’s on your mind? Heather can help! Send her your question at heather@gurl.com You can also reach our buddies at HelloFlo with questions about your body or health. Just ask Dr. Flo at HelloFlo!


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