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Women’s Social Lives Affected by Minor Infections

Update Date: Sep 11, 2013 12:40 PM EDT

Medically, the common vaginal infection that women get is considered a minor infection. When women get these infections, over-the-counter medications can clear them up swiftly. Even though these minor infections might not pose a huge threat to one's physical health, a new study is reporting that they could affect a woman's mental health dramatically. In this study, the researchers concluded that minor infections affect women's sex and social lives.

For this study, the researchers from Monash University, the University of Melbourne, Melbourne Sexual Health Center and the University of Sydney surveyed women between the ages of 18 and 45. The women had suffered from recurrent bacterial vaginosis (BV), which is an infection that is caused by an imbalance in vaginal flora. The researchers found that women who deal with recurrent BV were more likely to have poor self-esteem, sexual withdrawal, self-isolation and feelings of guilt. Some of the participants admitted that they felt too embarrassed and self-conscious to partake in normal sexual activities. Other participants stated that they avoided social or recreational gatherings due to their infection.

"Our study is the first to show that much recurrent BV is impacting on the lives of women in Australia," Dr. Jade Bilardi from the Monash University Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine and Melbourne Sexual Health Center said according to Medical Xpress. Bilardi is the lead investigator of the study. "Our findings show that while BV is often considered a minor and common vaginal condition by clinicians, its recurrent nature and the substantial impact it can have on women's social, sexual and emotional lives means that women's experiences can extend far beyond the physical symptoms."

Based on background research in the study, around one in three women from Australia suffer BV at some point in their lives. The symptoms include fishy odor, some physical discomfort and vaginal discharge. Previous research has found that women who have this condition in the long-term are at a greater risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery and susceptibility to HIV or other STDs (sexually transmitted diseases). Data has also revealed that BV is more common in women who have sex with other women.

The study was published in PLOS ONE.

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