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Factors of vaginal flora imbalance

When in balance, vaginal flora consists of bacteria that protect the vagina from harmful germs by maintaining a stable environment. There are however, some the factors likely to disrupt this very fragile vaginal flora balance, which you should know about.

Vaginal flora imbalance
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Vaginal secretions contain several million bacteria per milliliter. There is no need to be concerned, though, as these microorganisms are there to protect you from “bad” bacteria. They maintain natural vaginal acidity and produce defensive substances. All these bacteria live in harmony, but certain factors can sometimes upset vaginal flora balance and cause bacterial infection (vulvovaginitis) as well as fungal infections (vaginal thrush).

Vaginal flora and intimate hygiene

A number of factors can be responsible for vaginal flora imbalance and there are behaviours you’ll need to avoid, such as excessive intimate hygiene. You don’t need to wash your genitals more than twice daily. And remember to use appropriate products that are harmless to your vaginal flora. Perfumed soap and shower gels should as a result be avoided, and the same goes for vaginal douching, which has been heavily criticized for the past decade due to its disruptive effect on bacterial flora.

Though it’s true that excessive hygiene can cause infection, keep in mind that poor intimate hygiene does too. It is also recommended that you wipe yourself from the front to the backside after you’ve defecated in order to avoid vulval and vaginal infection through the rectal flora.

The fragile balance of vaginal flora

As far as clothing is concerned, you should avoid excessively close-fitting pants and tights, as they increase chances of irritation, maceration and humidity, thereby creating a favourable environment for the development of harmful bacteria and fungi. You should also choose cotton over synthetic materials, the latter of which raise chances of bacterial proliferation.

Hormonal disorders related to pregnancy, menopause or menstruation also constitute imbalance factors. Your gynecologist will prescribe the appropriate treatment for you as needed to rectify hormone-related imbalances.

Stress may also alter vaginal flora due to its effect on hormonal secretions. Some infections can develop subsequently to the intake of antibiotics, which act on “bad” and “good” bacteria alike. Certain women are more sensitive than others, putting them at greater risk of vaginal infection following such treatment. If this is your case, you ought to see your doctor immediately, as they will be able to adjust your medication dosage to your situation.

Wearing a tampon during your period, the use of spermicide or lubricant and the presence of sperm may momentarily alter vaginal flora but they aren’t major risk factors.

Posted 14.09.2010

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