Most women experience an occasional vaginal bacterial infection which usually resolves within a few days. However, if you are being diagnosed with a vaginal bacterial infection frequently, and your doctor keeps giving you the same medication that doesn’t seem to work, it’s time to see a specialist. Chances are you are suffering from recurrent vaginal bacterial infections.
What Is A Vaginal Bacterial Infection?
Recurrent vaginal bacterial infection is a vaginal infection caused by altered vaginal microflora. Symptoms include unusual odor, discharge, irritation, and vaginal itching.
Why Am I Suffering From Recurrent Vaginal Bacterial Infections?
Vaginal bacterial infections occur because of a change in the balance of bacteria in the vaginal microflora. However, if the underlying cause of the infection goes untreated, the symptoms will recur.
Many women wait for a long time to get a diagnosis of recurrent vaginal bacterial infections because most gynecologists don’t specialize in vulvovaginal disorders. As a result, they don’t have the appropriate knowledge, skill, or diagnostic tools to properly diagnose and treat recurrent bacterial vaginosis.
The vaginal microflora consists of more than 30 strains of bacteria. This includes ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria, but the good bacteria or lactobacillus generally dominate. Lactobacillus produces hydrogen peroxide, lactic acid, and other bacteriocins that help maintain a low concentration of bad bacteria.
This slightly acidic pH keeps the vagina healthy, as it provides a defense against the spread of harmful bacteria and other pathogens.
However, if there is a shift in the vaginal milieu, it can lead to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria. When this happens, the secretions that wash over the vaginal walls irritate the tissues and cause a range of symptoms, including itching, burning, and unusual odor and discharge. These are all signs of an altered vaginal microflora pattern.
How Are Recurrent Vaginal Infections Diagnosed?
Women with recurrent vaginal bacterial infections usually want to know the cause of the symptoms. They also want to be reassured by their doctor that these symptoms can be adequately addressed. A vulvovaginal specialist can provide a proper diagnosis and recommend effective treatment.
Recurrent vaginal bacterial infections are an indication that there has been a spread of harmful bacteria in the vagina, and it is likely in an altered state.
Dr. R. Stuart Fowler, a vulvovaginal specialist of Fowler GYN International (FGI) developed the vaginal fluid analysis (VFA) test to detect the presence of an altered vaginal microflora. The VFA test is an advanced diagnostic test that provides a quantitative analysis of the microorganisms in the vaginal fluid.
If the VFA test confirms an altered vaginal microflora, it means the symptoms are the result of an imbalance in the vaginal ecosystem. That’s the reason why the traditional course of antibiotics is not able to resolve the problem.
How Are Recurrent Vaginal Bacterial Infections Treated?
Restoring balance to the vaginal microflora requires a customized treatment protocol that includes medications and hypocontactant skincare products. The treatment protocol will restore balance to the vaginal microflora. When this happens, the symptoms being experienced will resolve.
The treatment protocol can take 6-8 months to work, but patients should notice some improvement in symptoms after about four months.
Hygiene products like soaps and douches contain chemicals that can irritate the vaginal mucosa and trigger the symptoms of a bacterial infection. Therefore, using hypocontactant skincare products can potentially minimize the recurrence of symptoms, as they don’t contain chemicals and fragrances.