Bacterial vaginosis is never, ever fun. There’s literally not a single person on this planet who likes to have it. It’s something that could unite women all around the world if we talked about it more openly. It’s common, it sucks, and anything you can do to help minimize it is helpful. That includes knowing which foods to avoid with BV.
As with most things in life and our bodies, the foods we put into our bodies are going to have an influence on our health and wellbeing. Avoiding these foods won’t cure your BV but it could help shorten the time you have to deal with it. It could also make symptoms easier to deal with. Just remember this isn’t a substitute for actual medical advice.
See also: What exactly does a gynecologist do?
With that said, there are some reasons to believe that these foods, in some cases, could help make things a little easier for you by not messing up the natural balance of bacteria in your body.
1. Have BV? Avoid Fried Foods
The high concentration of fat found in fried food can interfere with the delicate balance of good and bad bacteria found naturally in the vagina. Similarly, this study completed in 2007 observed a correlation between a diet high in saturated fat (like most fried foods) and the likelihood of a woman developing bacterial vaginosis.
Avoiding those types of foods could signal to a healthier lifestyle in other areas of life as well, which could also be a factor. Someone who eats less fried foods may also exercise more often, may take better care of themselves, and so on. Think of it as pieces to a larger overall puzzle.
2. Avoid Foods With Refined Carbohydrates
Refined carbohydrates are foods that have been processed to remove any bran, fiber, and other nutrients. This includes things like pasta, white flour and rice, soda, desserts, and pizza dough. To improve the taste and appeal to the masses, sugar is added in place of beneficial nutrients.
While refined carbohydrates are okay in moderation, they can suppress the immune system when eaten regularly. Not only does this increase your risk of developing bacterial vaginosis, you may be more prone to yeast infections and urinary tract infections as well as additional problems like painful sexual intercourse and vaginal dryness.
Unlike yogurt, which may offer some probiotic benefits, cheese can interfere with the overall health of your vagina. This is because cheese contains insulin, which is known to cause hormonal imbalances especially if eaten often. A hormonal imbalance is a problem because it can disrupt the vagina’s natural bacteria increasing your likelihood of developing BV or vaginal yeast infection.
If you love to melt a ton of cheese all over your favorite foods, but you’re also experiencing some issues with your vagina and BV, then this is something to think about. Now, we’re not going to dare to tell you to stop eating cheese – this stuff is so good that even people who are lactose intolerant are willing to deal with the consequences sometimes.
Like refined carbohydrates, a diet high in sugar can have a negative impact on your vaginal health. This is because sugar encourages inflammation and acts as fuel for bad bacteria and yeast. Sugar can also weaken your immune system and alter the pH of your vagina making it more difficult for your body against harmful bacteria.
Not only does this increase your risk of developing BV, but you could be more susceptible to additional health concerns like fatty liver, diabetes, kidney disease, and tooth decay.
It feels kind of obvious to point out that eating sugar isn’t a very healthy choice, but a certain amount of sugar, like what you get naturally from fruits, can still play a role in a healthy lifestyle.
But knowing that sugar can be providing fuel to the fire of bad bacteria in your body could be the extra little boost you need to avoid it more often – and every little bit helps!
What to do Next
Just a reminder, because we can’t emphasize this enough. If you have BV, then simply cutting out cheese or eating less sugar isn’t going to get rid of it. You’ll probably need to take a round of antibiotics. Avoiding certain foods isn’t a replacement for medical treatment when you’ve already got the condition.
Thinking about food and its relation to sexual health is an interesting avenue to explore. The topic of foods as aphrodisiacs is a fairly common discussion point, but it’s less common to hear about foods that can help your overall vaginal health and wellness.
Sarah Nelson is a nurse with 15 years of experience working with a variety of patients. She has a Masters of Science in Nursing and has spent a large portion of her career working exclusively with women in an OB/GYN setting.
Nursing is a passion for Sarah but she also enjoys writing and sharing her expertise online with people who need helpful information. Treating patients well and helping them learn more about their own bodies is a key essential to a healthy lifestyle that Sarah truly believes in.