If you are stressed or anxious, your high cortisol levels are blocking your vagina from producing glycogen. This means your good bacteria have nothing to eat, should they exist or be introduced. A lack of glycogen is a real problem when you are trying to resolve bacterial vaginosis (BV).
Finding ways to calm your system down (read: to reduce cortisol levels, to increase glycogen production in the vagina to feed your lactobacilli) is a really personal thing, but it often needs to be addressed when dealing with BV. It isn’t necessarily going to make or break your BV (if the biofilm is gone, your lactobacilli aren’t just going to lie down and die for no reason), but it needs to be taken into account when you think about how you are going to support your good bacteria and the recolonisation procedure.
Do not underestimate the impact your stress and anxiety are having on your ability to beat BV.
Understanding your stress response
Most of us don’t understand our own stress response. All we know is that we are freaking out, can’t sleep properly, suffer small (or large) bouts of panic, and worry a lot about everything. By its very nature, stress can cause us to quickly lose perspective, which is kind of the point – stress hormones are designed to get us through a hard time, not help us understand ourselves and others and life and the universe.
This is a physical response that affects our brain and body – your body is producing hormones that is making you feel like that. If you can learn how to control these hormones, you can keep the outcomes of stress on your body at bay. This is why meditating, yoga and laughing come so highly recommended – they, like a drug, lower your cortisol levels (demonstrated by science multiple times over). It’s not complicated in theory, but it can be really hard to figure out how to do when you feel really bad. Anxiety makes you feel tense, and so trying to chill yourself out can feel like trying to swim through syrup.
Managing stress in your life – easier said than done
Figuring out your stress response usually gets easier as you get older because you learn to avoid the stressors – including people you don’t like, jobs you hate, lovers who cause you never-ending drama. These are largely within your control, so when it comes to figuring out how to manage stress and anxiety, start in your own backyard. Identify, then eliminate or manage.
When you don’t have a lot of control over your life – you gotta pay the bills, go to school, take care of the kids and elderly parents. Life can be exhausting. The trick is figuring out what you need, and then making it happen.
There are also a lot of really awesome therapies that don’t include sitting around talking about your feelings. Go get a massage, foot rub, head massage, get a physical therapy to help solve some physical tension (osteopaths are fantastic, shiatsu, acupuncture, reflexology). Go to an herbalist and say, I’m stressed! Help! and they will make you a delicious concoction of herbal Xanax – herbs, in therapeutic doses, can work true non-pharmaceutical magic on the nervous system, without the hangover.
You can do the most amount at home by yourself for free. Eat dinner in the bath with a glass of wine and watch movies, spend time with people you like who make you laugh, look up funny cat videos on the internet, give yourself a reflexology session (you’d be amazed how tight your feet get), cook nice food, clean your house, meditate, whatever floats your boat and helps you get back to equilibrium. There is no reason for relaxing to cost a cent, but if you do have some cents to spare, you can certainly buy yourself some relaxing therapies.
It’s ok to sleep, it’s ok to relax, it’s ok to do nothing and it’s ok to say no. Life is not race and it’s not a competition – don’t forget… we all end up at the same place in the end.
When you are treating BV, do not underestimate the impact of high cortisol levels on your vaginal flora. If you have tried everything for your BV, but are chronically stressed, it needs addressing.