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    How vaginal hygiene can impact your fertility

    There are a lot of factors that determine fertility and good reproductive health, and vaginal hygiene is one of them. Dr Ratna Saxena, fertility consultant, Bijwasan, Delhi NCR, Nova Southend IVF and Fertility explains that taking care of intimate hygiene is essential, as otherwise infections can be caused.

    “These infections are caused due to low cleanliness and can spread the bacteria inside our body and genital tract and cause further problems. The infection that appears in the vaginal area is called bacterial vaginosis,” she says.

    According to the doctor, bacterial vaginosis — along with endometritis and pelvic inflammatory diseases — is an infection of the genital tract that can lead to adverse health outcomes, which mainly include infertility.

    The causes of bacterial vaginosis and endometritis-related infertility, she says, are multifactorial. “These diseases mainly stem from the lack of attention to genital hygiene, but also additionally because of inflammation, immune targeting of sperm antigens, the presence of bacterial toxins, and an increased risk of sexually transmitted infections. The diagnosis and treatment of bacterial vaginosis, pelvic inflammatory disease and chronic endometritis, before trying to conceive, becomes extremely important,” says Dr Saxena.

    She adds that in healthy women of reproductive age, “optimal vaginal microbes tend to exist symbiotically and are believed to protect against pathogenic bacterial colonisation”, along with “any kind of infection through the production of lactic acid, antimicrobial byproducts and low-level immune system activation”.

    “If these vaginal microbes do not exist, there is a high risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) and upper genital tract infections.”

    The doctor mentions that bacterial vaginosis and other infections in the vagina are more common in the lower genital tract, and they affect roughly 29 per cent of women of reproductive age. “Although such infections are asymptomatic and it takes time for one to realise them, women with vaginal infections are more likely to have a vaginal odour, itching, and discharge. Serious and adverse health outcomes include infertility, adverse pregnancy outcomes, STIs, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, human papillomavirus (HPV), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).”

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