Cytolytic Vaginosis: The Vaginal Condition You’ve Never Heard Before
There are many factors that can mess with the delicate balance of flora in a woman’s vaginal area. An imbalance of bacteria in this area can lead to many conditions, many of which you’ve probably heard of, such as vaginal yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis and candidiasis for example. But have you ever heard of Cytolytic Vaginosis?
What is Cytolytic Vaginosis?
Cytolytic Vaginosis (CV) , also known as lactobacillus overgrowth syndrome or Doderlein's cytolysis, is “a vaginal condition that involves an overgrowth of lactobacillus.” Lactobacillus is known as a friendly bacterium and naturally occurs in a normal vaginal environment. Despite how its name sounds, CV is not actually a yeast infection nor is it a sexually transmitted disease, since it involves an imbalance of bacteria that are naturally found in a healthy vagina. Treating this condition as you would a yeast infection could actually make the symptoms worse.
How is Cytolytic Vaginosis caused?
At this time there aren’t enough studies to definitively prove the causes of CV. As stated before it’s usually something that has caused the delicate balance of flora in the vagina to be out of whack. Other cases where this vaginal condition has been seen are in women who have used various antibiotics and antifungal medications to treat chronic vaginal discharge. It is possible that “these treatments may have encouraged an imbalance of the normal vaginal bacteria, leading to an overgrowth of lactobacillus.”
What are the symptoms of Cytolytic Vaginosis? Common symptoms of CV include “vulvar and/or vaginal itching, vulvar redness, vaginal discharge which may be either thin and watery or thick and curdlike, or mild to moderate vulvar or vaginal discomfort associated with intercourse or urination.” You may notice these symptoms become more pronounced during the latter half of your menstrual cycle.
How is Cytolytic Vaginosis treated?
Because there are more lactobacilli in the vagina than normal and lactobacilli tend to make the environment more acidic, meaning the vagina has a lower pH than usual, treatment is usually focused on increasing the vagina’s pH back to normal.
According to the University of Virginia’s Student Health pamphlet, treatment often involves “douching with a baking soda solution or using a baking soda suppository vaginally”.
They further recommend that this can be done yourself (after consulting with your gynecologist) by making your baking soda douche or baking soda suppository: 1. “How to treat using a baking soda douche: a. Mix 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda with 4 cups of warm water. A douche bag, which can be purchased at most pharmacies, is then used to rinse the vagina with the solution. Or, you can purchase baking soda douches over the counter at most pharmacies. Douche twice weekly for two weeks.”
2. How to treat using a baking soda suppository: a. “Fill empty gelatin capsules with baking soda and insert one capsule intravaginally, twice weekly for two weeks. Gelatin capsules can be purchased at health food stores.” 3. How to Treat Vulvar Symptoms a. “Make a watery paste with baking soda and apply to the vulva on a clean cloth or pad as needed.
Your symptoms should get better after two weeks. If not you should seek the medical advice of a doctor for a re-evaluation.
• Abstain from sexual activity until you are no longer experiencing any symptoms. • When you use the bathroom make sure to wipe from front to back instead of back to front. • Do not use soap to wash your vulva but instead rinse with warm water • Change out of wet swimwear and exercise apparel as soon as possible • Never use vaginal sprays, powders or scented tampons • Wear breathable cotton underwear during the daytime and sleep without underwear at night • Wear loose-fitting clothing.
CV often gets misdiagnosed as bacterial vaginosis (bv) and candidiasis. So if you’ve tried antifungal treatments in the past and are still experiencing the symptoms it is likely that you have CV. It is recommended that you seek the medical advice of a physician for a proper diagnosis. So now you know what CV is. Share this with your loved ones so that they can also be aware of this relatively unknown condition.