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The culprit is often bacterial vaginosis, the most common vaginal infection you’ve probably never heard of. The sad truth is that these sprays, soaps, and wipes will not fix the problem. 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.All of which is making researchers look anew at the most private part of a woman’s body, to understand what it means to have a healthy—some prefer “optimal”—vagina and why that is so important for wider health.One woman’s BV started just a few weeks after she had her hormonal intrauterine device inserted.Like many women, this 37-year-old from a suburb of St.She thought she had a yeast infection and took over-the-counter medications, but when it didn’t clear up she headed back to her gynecologist’s office.Her doctor explained that BV is a disturbance of the natural balance of bacteria that live inside the vagina.Sex with someone new, having multiple partners, and douching—rinsing out the vagina with a bag or bottle of liquid—can all contribute to getting BV, but it is not classified as a sexually transmitted disease.Mostly, how a woman develops BV is still a big mystery.
As warm, moist canals exposed to all sorts of things including penises, babies, and dirt, most mammalian vaginas harbor a diverse mix of bacteria.For many, they believe that’s just the way their vagina is. Folklore about the need to clean out the vagina—especially after sex or a period—is often handed down from older relatives to younger women.Before her intrauterine device, the woman had never had a problem with BV. But the vagina is remarkably adept at taking care of itself if left undisturbed.“Your vagina is like a self-cleaning oven,” says Willers. When Sharon Hillier joined King Holmes’s laboratory at the University of Washington in Seattle in 1982, BV was called “non-specific vaginitis.” “What kind of crazy name is that? It was a catch-all diagnosis given to women who had vaginal infections of unknown origin—not yeast infections or common STIs like chlamydia or trichomoniasis. She knew she needed to stay in the field when, during one brainstorming session with mostly male colleagues, someone suggested that women with BV were sexually repressed or feeling sexual guilt.It could be something as simple as a run away script or learning how to better use E-utilities, for more efficient work such that your work does not impact the ability of other researchers to also use our site.To restore access and understand how to better interact with our site to avoid this in the future, please have your system administrator contact [email protected]