A new study says that using a condom drastically reduces a woman’s risk of bacterial vaginosis (BV), also known as “What’s that smell down there?”
The study was conducted by Lenka Vodstrcil, a professor at University of Liverpool who specializes in clinical epidemiological research. The focus of her research has been the prevention and treatment of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STI), and research on the cervicovaginal microbiome and immunology.
The research team tracked the bacteria living in 52 women’s vaginas for a year. Each woman wast told to swab her vagina every three months and keep a record of any sexual activities. They were also asked to note if a condom was used during the ‘ol in and out.
The findings? The study Dr. Vodstrcil conducted at Melbourne’s Monash University showed sex without a condom significantly drives up levels of two dangerous bacteria: Gardnerella vaginalis and Lactobacillus iners. It also found that women who had unprotected sex with new partners had higher concentrations of the bacteria than women in long-term relationships.
Vaginas have five different strains of bacteria, with Lactobacillus being the most dominant. Sexual health researchers say that vaginas are healthiest when dominated by the L. crispatus strain.
The study also noted that the more people used condoms, the less urinary tract infections they had; another reason to get your guy, if you have one, to wear a condom! It also showed that women with high levels of L.crispatus have a lower risk of all infections; including HIV and yeast infections. The bacteria has also been linked to an increased risk of developing pelvic inflammatory disease.
The “little lady down there” can be thrown off at any time; especially from semen or menstruation, which reduce the number of “good bacteria” Lactobacillus, allowing the BV causing bacteria to take over. Dr. Wijgert noted that condom-less sex with a new partner is a “microbial assault on the vagina.”
But sex isn’t necessarily always bad for the vagina. Van de Wijgert thinks that a woman’s vaginal microbiome adapts to the bacteria present on her long-term partner’s penis. With a new partner she says “The vagina will mount an immune response against the bacteria, causing inflammation.”
Since its your vagina, there really should be no argument about whether he wants to wear a condom or not. Cutting down on urinary infections should be reason enough. So next time a man tries to talk you into having sex without a condom, tell him you’re trying to keep your “Lactobacillus in check”, and your vajajay healthy and cute.