Imbalance in the vaginal flora and vaginal infections
Many factors can disturb the natural balance in the vagina, and if they become too intense, the vaginal flora can no longer adapt, which may result in a vaginal infection. The number of lactobacilli in the vagina is usually then reduced and the pH is also often raised to values above 4.4.
Vaginal complaints such as itching, burning and discharge, can be signs of a bacterial or yeast infection and thus of an imbalance in the vaginal flora. These symptoms must be seen.
With lactic acid products, women who are susceptible to recurrent vaginal infections can restore and maintain a healthy vaginal environment and thus help prevent vaginal infections (see Vagisan Lactic Acid).
Possible imbalancing factors:
If you take an antibiotic to treat an infection such as tonsillitis, it may also affect your vaginal flora. ‘Good’ bacteria (such as lactobacilli) may possibly also be killed by the antibiotic, thus enabling disease-causing pathogens (such as fungi) to spread unopposed.
Changes in hormone levels can also cause the vaginal environment to modify to one that favours infection. This can happen during pregnancy and when breastfeeding, for example, but also while taking oral contraceptives.
Stress, mental strain, the flu and other infectious diseases can all weaken the body’s natural defences in the intimate area, which may promote infections by fungi or disease-causing bacteria.
Some women use vaginal douches because they believe this helps to keep the vagina very clean. They tend to be harmful, however, and often considerably worsen discomfort. Harmful bacteria and fungi cannot be killed with vaginal douches, which can however destroy the natural colonies of lactobacilli and may severely irritate the vaginal mucosa.
Blood is alkaline, meaning it has a pH of about 7.4. Each time there is blood in the vagina (e.g. from menstruation, spotting, blood traces after surgery) the pH in the vagina shifts temporarily to a higher value. Semen (or seminal fluid) is also alkaline to enable sperm motility. Amniotic fluid and lochia (the vaginal discharge after giving birth) are also alkaline body fluids. The lactic acid produced by the lactobacilli in the healthy vagina normally balances out alkaline body fluids, but if the vaginal flora is weakened or disturbed, this compensation is delayed or does not occur. The subsequent shift in the pH of the vagina to above 4.4 can favour the growth of disease-causing pathogens.