Vaginal infections are no stranger to most women. That’s because the vagina is an ecosystem of both good bacteria and fungi that require a healthy environment to thrive. When the balance is thrown off by outside elements, or even from taking certain antibiotics, this can lead to uncomfortable conditions such as Bacterial Vaginosis, UTIs, or Yeast Infections.
If you are a chronic sufferer of vaginal infections, the good news is that most vaginal infections can be quickly and effectively treated with prescription and, in some cases, over-the-counter medications. Treating early is key because leaving these infections untreated can have lasting effects on your fertility.
Vaginal Infections and Fertility
Now let’s take a look at three of the more common vaginal infections, what causes them, and how they can best be taken care of to prevent any long-term effects.
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
Bacterial Vaginosis, or BV, is vaginal inflammation caused by too much of a certain bacteria naturally found in the vagina, disrupting its natural balance. While there is no one definite cause, unprotected sex and douching can increase your risk of BV. It is also most common among women in their reproductive years.
Many women with BV may not have any physical symptoms. However, some common signs of infection include burning during urination, vaginal itching, irregular grey-colored discharge, and/or a “fishy” vaginal odor.
Increased inflammation can create a less-than-ideal environment for reproduction. BV can also damage sperm and vaginal cells, interfere with healthy cervical mucus, and result in scar tissue that could block the fallopian tubes and interfere with ovulation.
Thankfully, BV can be easily treated with antibiotics, such as metronidazole (aka Flagyl), clindamycin, and tinidazole. Wisp can help get you same-day prescriptions and over-the-counter BV medications to quickly knock out your infection. They can even connect you with a real-time healthcare provider to help you navigate your symptoms and prescribe the treatment you need.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are common infections in the urinary tract caused by bacteria entering the urethra. The infection can affect any part of the urinary tract, including your kidneys, bladder, ureters, or urethra. Most commonly, UTIs target the lower part of the urinary tract: mainly the bladder and urethra. However, if the infection goes untreated, it can spread to the kidneys and cause much more serious health problems.
The most reported symptoms of UTIs include a burning sensation while urinating, a constant urge to urinate, cloudy urine, and signs of blood in the urine. For women, another symptom might be pelvic pain, especially in the center of the pelvis and around the pelvic bone.
While UTIs themselves are not directly responsible for infertility issues, if you are a constant sufferer of these infections it can take a toll on your reproductive organs. Chronic, or recurrent UTIs, can result in pelvic inflammation which may cause scarring in the fallopian tubes, negatively affecting fertility, which is why it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible.
If your UTI is diagnosed and treated early, taking oral antibiotics for about a week is usually sufficient enough to knock it out. Some of the most common types of antibiotics used to treat these infections are Trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Bactrim DS), Fosfomycin (Monurol), Nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin, Macrobid, Furadantin), Cephalexin, and Ceftriaxone.
As many as 72% of women have had at least one vaginal yeast infection in their lifetime. These common infections are the result of an overgrowth of Candida, a naturally growing fungus in the vagina. Yeast infections can cause vaginal redness or soreness, discharge, and intense itchiness of the vagina and the vulva.
Yeast infections can affect your fertility simply by limiting your desire to have sexual intercourse due to the pain and discomfort. Chronic yeast infections can have a greater negative affect on your reproductive health, damaging the consistency of cervical mucus and the natural vaginal environment. These side effects make it more difficult for sperm to reach an egg.
Yeast infections, while uncomfortable, can be effectively treated with over-the-counter topical antifungal medications—suppositories, creams, or tablets—or prescription oral medications. If you suffer from more than four infections within a year, you may require a longer treatment and maintenance plan.
The Good News
There’s no denying that vaginal infections are no fun, but luckily, BV, UTIs, and yeast infections can all be successfully managed with prescription antibiotics and even some over-the-counter medications. If you are suffering from any of these conditions below the belt, be sure to reach out to your doctor, gynecologist, or an online healthcare provider like Wisp so they can diagnose and prescribe you the medication you need to get back on track.
Brighid Flynn is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia where she lives with her husband and puppy. She is just beginning her journey toward motherhood.