Maintaining optimal vaginal health and reducing variables that may upset the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina are key to preventing bacterial vaginosis (BV). While it’s not always possible to completely prevent BV, the following steps may help reduce your risk:
- Practice Safe Sex: Using barrier methods like condoms during sexual activity can reduce the risk of BV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Limiting the number of sexual partners may also lower your risk.
- Avoid Douching: Douching can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina. It’s generally recommended to avoid douching, as it can increase the risk of BV and other vaginal infections.
- Limit Scented Products: Avoid using scented soaps, bubble baths, and other feminine hygiene products in the genital area. These products can disrupt the vaginal flora and increase the risk of infection.
- Fragrance-Free Soaps: Use mild, fragrance-free soaps for cleansing the genital area. Rinse thoroughly and pat the area dry after washing.
- Avoid Excessive Cleaning: The vagina is self-cleaning and does not require excessive cleaning with harsh soaps. Overcleaning can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria.
- Change Wet Clothing Promptly: Avoid staying in wet swimwear or workout clothing for extended periods, as this can create a damp environment that promotes bacterial overgrowth.
- Consider Probiotics: Some studies suggest that probiotics may help maintain a healthy vaginal flora. Probiotic supplements or foods containing beneficial bacteria, like yogurt, may be worth considering, but speak with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement.
- Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water helps maintain overall health, including vaginal health.
- Avoid Smoking: If you smoke, consider quitting. Smoking is associated with an increased risk of BV.
- Regular Checkups: Attend regular gynecological checkups to monitor your vaginal health and address any concerns or symptoms promptly.
It’s important to remember that while these preventive measures can reduce the risk of BV, some cases may still occur despite taking precautions. If you suspect you have BV or are experiencing symptoms, consult a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment. Left untreated, BV can lead to complications, so seeking medical attention is essential.