Vaginal infections like bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections are very common in women. It is important to know the signs and symptoms of a vaginal infection and treating the infection on time is also essential.
Normally, a woman’s vagina cleans itself by discharging fluid that is mostly clear or a little cloudy. There is no itching or any weird smells. But when this discharge itches or burns or has a pungent odour, you might have a vaginal infection. You can feel very uncomfortable and irritated because of the infection.
When there is an overgrowth of yeast which is normally present in your body, it is called a yeast infection, whereas when the balance of bacteria is disturbed, bacterial vaginosis occurs. You can differentiate between both the infections by the appearance and smell of vaginal discharge. If you can sense a weird, pungent smell, you may have bacterial vaginosis whereas if the discharge looks thick and whitish, you may have a yeast infection. It is also possible to have both infections at once. Vaginal infections such as gonorrhoea and chlamydia are sexually-transmitted diseases, i.e. these infections can spread through sexual contact. STDs do not show any symptoms at all, most of the times. The only way you can be sure about these infections is by getting tested. If symptoms do occur, they might mimic those of other diseases, or they can be too obvious.
It is important that vaginal infections such as bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections are not left untreated, or these can make you more susceptible to contracting an STD and put you at the risk of developing pelvic inflammatory disease. In such a case, your fallopian tubes may get blocked causing infertility or an ectopic pregnancy. STD’s may also cause the ejaculatory duct to get blocked, due to which the male cannot release his sperm, leading to infertility. Thus it is best, if these STD’s are detected and treated as early as possible, because the longer it is left untreated, the more damage it can cause.
If the infections do not occur too often and go away on their own, you may not have to worry. The only way by which it can obstruct your fertility is that these infections can make having intercourse really painful. If you have recurrent bouts of these infections, your internal vaginal flora can become unbalanced. This can make it harder for the sperm to reach your uterus because the consistency of the cervical fluid changes. This imbalance also diminishes the defence ability of the vaginal mucosa, leading to fertility problems later on in life.
Sometimes, the ointments and creams that are used for treating these vaginal infections can also make it difficult for the sperm to travel to the uterus. Also, intercourse is generally not recommended during this time as it is too painful and your partner may also get the infection, although that rarely happens.
To prevent these vaginal infections, you should keep your vaginal area clean and dry and avoid wearing damp clothing or clothes that are too tight. Also make it a practice to have safe sex. This will protect you from these infections and preserve your chances of conceiving.