My partner’s semen leaks out of me every time we have sex and when I go back home, my vagina smells terrible even when I have had a shower. This lasts for a few days then it disappears. Please help.
Dear Jane, when I read your question, the first thing that came to my mind was Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) so that is what we are going to talk about today. I would still recommend that you go and see a doctor in case this problem continues.
So, what is BV?
Contrary to popular belief, BV is really just an overgrowth of bad bacteria which can happen when the good bacteria is less than the bad. To be clear, all bodies – male and female – are full of both good and bad bacteria. This is true of vaginas as well, and it is a necessary part of vaginal health.
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The tricky bit is that our bodies naturally know how to balance out the good and the bad so that they remain healthy. This means that we never even know when something is ‘off’ because our bodies naturally take care of it. However, sometimes our bodies are unable to achieve this balance on their own and when something interferes with their ability to balance things out on their own, BV is sometimes the result. To be clear, this is NOT an infection and it is NOT an STI, even though it can be triggered by sexual activity.
So who can get BV?
Practically every woman of every age can get it. Women who are sexually active, women who are not sexually active, pregnant women, women who have changed their sexual partner or those who have multiple sexual partners, women who are having sex for the first time after a dry spell, women who use harsh/varying products in/around their vaginas…the list is endless. The point is, any woman can get it and it is often easy to treat.
The most common symptoms of BV include a very strong, fishy odour especially after sex and a thin, watery discharge that looks white or grey. Based on these symptoms, I hope you can see why BV was my first suspicion in response to your question, right? The fact that it disappears after a few days is an indication of your body’s health and ability to restore your vaginal bacterial balance. Still, there are things you can do to help your body so that you do not have to live with it for days while your body is finding its balance.
So now what can you do?
Well, your doctor may prescribe some antibiotics to help with this. However, there are things that you can do to help your body do what it is designed to do. First of all, bacteria loves sugar so cut down on your sugar intake. Remember that certain foods, for instance high starch foods are converted into sugar so you may be consuming a lot more sugar than you realise.
Additionally, increase your intake of foods that will increase the bacteria in your gut and your body. Fermented foods are great for this: buttermilk (maziwa mala), yoghurt (plain, not sugared) and other fermented foods like fermented cabbage.
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Please do not tamper with the natural balance of your vagina by introducing things like douches and other ‘vaginal cleansers’. Douches can alter your vagina’s natural pH which makes it much more difficult for it to resist imbalances like pH levels. Your vagina is designed to clean itself so there is no need to squirt liquids inside it in the name of ‘cleaning’; leave it alone so it can do what it is meant to do.
In the same breath, avoid strongly scented soaps and body cleansers in/around your vagina, and when you do shower, get a proper rinse. Speaking of showers, choose them more often than baths and dry well afterwards. In short, take good care of yourself from the inside out.
A side note on BV: If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant through sex or medical intervention, it is important that you speak to your doctor if you suspect BV or if you have recurring cases. This is because it can – in some cases – affect the pregnancy and cause some complications so speak to your doctor.
In addition, some studies have shown that BV can increase chances of contracting an Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) and may cause the reactivation of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) so use protection until it clear up and speak to your doctor if you have additional concerns.
Jane, I hope that this information is useful to you and has given you an idea of what could be going on and some things you can do to help your body help you. Here’s to a happy, healthy body and sex life.
Maggie Gitu holds an MA in Marriage & Family Therapy. She practices as a Marriage, Family & Sex Therapist.
Reach her at [email protected] or via her Facebook page: Maggie Gitu
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