Vaginal odor might be the last taboo for the modern woman. The companies behind these products know that many women are looking for ways to counter embarrassing and debilitating symptoms such as vaginal odor and discharge. Nearly one-third of U. The sad truth is that these sprays, soaps, and wipes will not fix the problem. They will—in many cases—actually make it worse. But while women try to mask embarrassing smells, a more sinister truth also remains under cover: The bacteria responsible are putting millions of women, and their unborn babies, at risk from serious health problems. Compared with those of other mammals, the human vagina is unique. As warm, moist canals exposed to all sorts of things including penises, babies, and dirt, most mammalian vaginas harbor a diverse mix of bacteria. However, for many women, one or another species of Lactobacillus has become the dominant bacterial resident.
How common is this?
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Sexually transmitted bacteria
By Jessica Hamzelou. Ready to trade bacteria. Having sex with a male partner can disrupt the balance of bacteria in the vagina — which might put women at risk of infections. The bacterial communities of healthy vaginas tend to be dominated by one type of bacteria. Women with higher levels of other bacteria are more likely to get urinary tract infections, or even give birth prematurely. So far, though, it has been unclear if the bacteria are a cause of these problems or a result of them.
Vaginitis, also known as vulvovaginitis, is not one specific condition. The term encompasses a variety of disorders that cause infection or inflammation of the vagina or vulva. The causes of vaginitis can include bacteria, viruses, or yeast infections. It can also be passed between sexual partners. Vaginal dryness due to lack of estrogen can also be a contributing cause. Vaginitis is detected during a regular gynecological exam. Symptoms of vaginitis can differ, depending on the cause of the vaginal infection. Some people have no symptoms. Your doctor will ask you to abstain from douching in the 24 hours before your appointment.