Antibiotics are used to treat infections by using them to kill off and inhibit the growth of bacteria. But they will of course disrupt the normal pH of the vagina environment which is supposed to be slightly acidic – within 3.5 and 4.5.
According to Ask Alice! – a Columbia University resource, inadvertently these antibiotics while used for treatment, destroy also healthy bacteria, thereby leaving you susceptible to infections. While it is normal to have some bacteria living within and around the vagina, certain microorganisms are not supposed to be found there experts say. Thus a lady can have vaginal infections due to the activities or presence of unwanted bacteria, fungi or viruses.
Some of the infections have become so common, and statistics so far show that for instance, about three quarters of women will have vaginal thrush at sometime in their lives. This, experts say is as a result of various reasons. Dr. Olufisayo Balogun, a gynaecologist explains that indiscriminate use of antibiotics can very well lead to vaginal acidity, thereby causing infection.
Some of the well known infections you can find around the vagina include – Chlamydia, Genital herpes, Bacterial vaginosis, Genital warts, Gonorrhoea, and Thrush.
Balogun said while treating yourself with antibiotics it “affects the growth of the lactobacillus around the vagina, as well as kill them, thereby laying the vagina bare for infection to thrive.” He said this is the reason the access to antibiotics in Nigeria should be regulated seeing that most women with vaginal infection have reported to have indiscriminately used these drugs.
Apart from other factors that may result in this situation such as (tight) nylon underwear, douching, use of perfumed soaps, flavoured lubricants, feminine hygiene sprays, etc, a heavy regimen of antibiotic therapy has been found to be highly culpable. It is even worse still when the illness or condition you were treating was as a result of lowered immune system. At this rate the pH of your vagina could be highly compromised – leading to an upsurge in unhealthy bacterial attack, experts say.
Dr. Balogun explained further that apart from taking antibiotics, “washing of the vagina with soap and water, as well as wearing of nylon underwear may expose the vagina more to infection.”
While noting that vagina infection can also be transmitted during sexual intercourse, he said there were three main vaginal infections, which are: the protozoa, fungi and bacteria, adding that sometimes mix infections could as well occur.
The gynaecologist said “Every woman has a normal vaginal discharge, which is expected to be scanty, clean and odourless and not associated with itching. But when it becomes itchy, with colour and odour, it is most likely as a result of infection.” He pointed that the vagina has its own natural bacteria which serve as protection for the tissue from disease causing bacteria which are the abnormal flora.
Women within the reproductive age group (15 to 45) still have their ovaries very active – producing oestrogen, and making glycogen readily available in the vagina. In this regard Balogun said “The lactobacillus work on the glycogen, converting it to lactic acid which brings down the acidity within the vagina.”
In corroborating these facts, another expert, Dr. Bayo Bamisebi, said that when the pH is elevated due to interference, the environment adjusts in favour of the pathogenic bacteria thereby allowing them to cause all manner of harm including vaginal odour, heavy and coloured discharge, discomfort, and infections.
Dr. Bamisebi added that “the art of douching – washing the vagina with soap, detergent, antiseptic, or sitting on potty is a harmful cultural practice and wrong perception.” To this effect, experts urge women to stop the act of douching since it does not make the vagina clean in any way because as you are trying to wash the inside of the vagina with soaps or detergents, etc, it goes to destroy the natural environment of the organ.
Balogun on his part further advised women to be very cautious when dealing with their vagina in that it is one of the most sensitive parts of their body, and recommended a drug – Klovinal for the treatment of any kinds of vaginal infection.