Tag Archives: health

It’s Not Always Thrush. Could You Have BV?

Thinking Girl

Most women of a certain age will have heard of the dreaded infection ‘thrush’, but did you know that it is only one of three common vaginal infections that affect women. Candidiasis, or ‘thrush’ as we know it, is the most well-known, but it is often confused with bacterial vaginosis (BV) or less commonly, trichomoniasis.

So how do you know if you have thrush or BV? Let’s take a look at the conditions in more detail.

Bacterial Vaginosis

BV is an imbalance of the pH levels in your vagina and more women in the UK suffer from it than any other vaginal condition, including thrush.

A woman’s vagina is full of naturally occurring bacteria that keep it in balance, healthy and free from infection. Lactic acid producing bacteria maintains the low pH, but if these bacteria reduce then bad bacteria can grow and this can result in some unpleasant symptoms.

Symptoms of BV:

  • An unusual ‘fishy’ smell, which is especially strong after intercourse
  • Abnormal discharge – this will likely be white / grey and thin
  • Vaginal discomfort

50% of women who suffer from BV however have no symptoms at all, so if you feel something is up speak to your local GP.

Causes of BV:

There a number of different things that can affect the pH balance of your vagina and therefore cause BV. It is important to note however that it is not caused by poor hygiene levels, but in fact prefers cleanliness. Bacterial vaginosis may be caused by:

  • The IUD contraceptive coil
  • Antibiotics
  • Washing the vagina with perfumed soap or shower gel
  • Prolonged menstruation
  • Menopause
  • Sexual intercourse
  • Frequent douching
  • Use of sex toys
  • Use of intimate hygiene products

These triggers however may vary depending on your age and lifestyle. Young girls are likely to get BV while their periods are heavy and unsettled, young women may be more at risk thanks to contraceptive intrauterine devices that prevent pregnancy, and women going through the menopause may suffer from BV thanks to their hormone imbalances.

Risks of BV:

Bacterial vaginosis is not dangerous alone, but it can however link to more serious conditions. Women with BV are therefore more at risk of:

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Endometritis
  • STDs
  • Post-operative infections
  • UTIs
  • Miscarriage and premature birth
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Depression or anxiety

Thrush

Thrush is a yeast infection in the vagina. This yeast, known as ‘candida’, lives in or around the private area, and may multiply to cause unpleasant symptoms.

Symptoms of Thrush:

Many of the symptoms of thrush are similar to those that come with BV and therefore are the reason why the two conditions are often confused. Symptoms of thrush include:

  • Abnormal discharge – this will likely be thick and ‘curd-like’
  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Irritation
  • Redness

Causes of Thrush:

  • The contraceptive pill
  • Antibiotics
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Pregnancy
  • Tight synthetic clothing, such as nylon fabrics
  • Contamination from the GI tract
  • Change in vaginal pH

Risks of Thrush:

There are no major health issues associated with thrush, but recurring thrush can cause depression, anxiety or sexual issues.

Treating BV and Thrush

Whichever vaginal infection you think you may have it is important to book an appointment with your local GP in order to get it treated. They will prescribe medicine as a cream, pessary or tablet in order to fight the symptoms and treat the cause.

You can also buy a number of over the counter products from your local pharmacy if you recognise the symptoms and have self-diagnosed.

So do you think you may have BV or thrush? Find out with this easy to use symptom checker!

Balance Activ works with you, for you, to naturally restore the balance of your feminine health. Take a look at their website for more information on vaginal health, and to discover products to help safely treat common feminine issues.

Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post. 

The Effects of Age on Pregnancy and Birth

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Last year, I was contacted by Amy Herring, an eighteen year old student studying for her A Levels in Biology, History and Maths. She has applied to study Midwifery at University this coming September, and in relation to this goal, she has completed a research project on the effects of age on pregnancy and birth. I was immediately interested by the subject matter of her research.

Amy chose to write about the effects of age on the pregnancy continuum because as someone aspiring to be a midwife, to support a woman and her family through any situation, she wanted to broaden her knowledge in advance of starting her training; to prepare herself for the many different situations she is likely to encounter. She is particularly interested in pregnancy in older women as this is becoming more common in the UK for a variety of reasons. Amy feels that although pregnancy in older women poses its possible risks, it’s an option that all women should feel they are able to consider. In her opinion, midwives and other health professionals should present women and their families with their options in a way they can understand.

Amy’s research tested the hypothesis, ‘Is there an optimum age, that is not too old or not too young, for women to bear children’. To calculate the optimum age window, she made comparisons between ‘young mums’ (women aged under 18), ‘older mums’ (women aged 35 and over) and the ‘middle’ category mums, those falling between the two extreme categories; her argument being that mothers outside the optimum age window may have troublesome pregnancies, possibly resulting in complications in utero or a baby that experiences difficulties.

Amy’s research looked at conception and birth statistics, childhood data, data she collected from a ‘Bosom Buddies’ breastfeeding class, the lifestyle choices of women and the prevalence of pre-existing health conditions. Amy used many studies; these studies showed that older mums are more likely to experience complications such as gestational diabetes, placenta praevia and pre-eclampsia, and are more at risk from ectopic pregnancies and miscarriage. However, it is important to realise that Amy’s research was not complete; as she concludes: “Items have been cited in this project as needing more research; for example factors other than age, such as marital status, and how these affect outcomes.”

The research concluded that women in the ‘middle’ category – aged between 25 and 35 –   have the healthiest and safest pregnancies, for both the women and the babies. The older a woman becomes, the greater her risk of a pre-existing condition affecting her and her foetuses wellbeing. The exceptions to this are epilepsy, where women of 35 have the lowest risk and asthma, which affects women in the ‘middle’ category most commonly. Although Amy comes to this conclusion, she mentions in her project that older women do have factors which could make their pregnancy and birth more successful such as life experience and a more stable environment in which to raise a child.

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Older Mums thoughts…

So what does this mean for older women who have not settled down with a partner yet? One word stands out; HEALTH. For any woman wishing to conceive over the age of 35, just as I did, physical, emotional and mental health have to be top priorities. No smoking. No drinking. Plenty of exercise (and meditation to reduce stress levels). A well balanced diet, as much organic food as possible. Lots of rest and relaxation. I think there are many women out there who would ideally love to conceive at the ‘optimum age’ but can’t due to many reasons beyond their control; no partner, not feeling emotionally or psychologically ready (as I did), career demands. There are many many reasons as to why a woman may want to conceive later in life. Amy realises that a woman’s choice is an important factor in this decision. Society needs to accommodate this factor and all others, the world is not as it was, women are having children later, and this is something that won’t change.

Physical risks aside, there are many positives older women have in becoming a parent later in life; maturity, life experience, financial stability, older mothers tend to be in a solid relationship, all factors which can only contribute to the upbringing of a well adjusted, happy child. At the end of the day, we are talking about the raising of confident, secure human beings, and that is an issue which lies at the door of parenting, not age.

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I would like to thank Amy for sending me her research. It is important to be educated on the physical risks of pregnancy, and reminded of the importance of a healthy lifestyle and diet when considering becoming pregnant. I have a strong hunch Amy is going to make a great mid wife.

Amy’s research, The Effects of Age on Pregnancy and Birth, is protected under the Copyright of oldermum.co.uk. All rights reserved.