Bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis is one of the most common vaginal infections that occur in women today in the United States. It is also common among pregnant women. The exact causes of this problem are not known however there are some risk factors that medical professionals feel put women at higher risk of developing this condition.

What occurs in the vagina to cause this problem? The vagina normally houses bacteria that is considered good bacteria. There is also a low amount of harmful or bad bacteria present in the vagina on any given day. Normally there is enough good bacteria present to kill other bacteria or organisms that would be harmful in that environment. When an incident takes place that changes the balance of the bacteria in the vagina, then the harmful bacteria can take over and bacterial vaginosis can occur.

As stated above, there is no one cause of bacterial vaginosis. The medical community has found that some women are more prone to this disease than others. Women who have multiple sexual partners are more at risk than women who are abstinent or have only one partner. Women who douche frequently can be at higher risk of developing this problem as well. Women who are pregnant are at higher risk of developing bacterial vaginosis than those who are not. There are also accounts of bacterial vaginosis that accompanies other postoperative infections which occur after a hysterectomy or abortion.

There are some myths concerning how this problem can be contracted that do need to be addressed. Bacterial vaginosis is not passed during sexual intercourse from a man to a woman however it can be passed from female to female during intercourse. This disease cannot be contracted from toilet seats, touching areas around a toilet, swimming pools or hot tubs, or bedding that has been used.

The symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include a white or grey discharge and a foul odor that can occur along with the discharge. Some women report a fishy odor that accompanies the discharge especially after sexual intercourse. Itching and tenderness around the vagina have been reported with this condition. Some women have burning on urination as well. It is important to note that some women may have this problem and be asymptomatic as well.

This condition needs to be evaluated and treated by a medical professional. While some cases of bacterial vaginosis can be resolved on their own without internvention, most require antibiotic therapy in order to get rid of the condition. There are two antibiotics that can be used to treat this disease successfully. They are metronidazole and clindamycin. It is very important that both of these medications be taken until the supply of medication is finished to remove all traces of the infection. Even with antibiotic therapy the condition can recur.

There are some complications that can occur in women due to having bacterial vaginosis. Women who have this problem are more susceptible to certain sexually transmitted diseases such as Chlamydia, Herpes Simplex Virus and Gonorrhea. They are also more susceptible to contracting HIV while having bacterial vaginosis. Women who have bacterial vaginosis are much more likely to develop postoperative infections after having a hysterectomy or abortion. Due to this, a lot of surgeons will treat women for this condition with an antibiotic prior to surgery to prevent this problem.

Women who are pregnant and contract bacterial vaginosis can have a different set of issues. They are at a higher risk of preterm labor or having baby with a low birth weight. There is also a chance of the bacteria moving from the vagina to the uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries infecting them. This condition is called pelvic inflammatory disease and is much harder to treat. It can also cause scarring of the fallopian tubes which can cause problems with fertility and even sterility later in life.

Women who want to prevent bacterial vaginosis should avoid douching except when absolutely necessary and limit their sexual partners or stay abstinent to reduce their chances of developing this disease. Pregnant women should be screened for this condition prior to delivering their child to avoid complications. If symptoms of this condition occur prompt medical treatment should be sought to reduce the chances of complications. Medication should be taken in its entirety to make sure that the bacteria is totally eradicated from the vagina.

Last updated on Sep 13th, 2009 and filed under Reproductive Health. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

1 Response for “Bacterial vaginosis”

  1. Karyn says:

    Bacterial vaginosis seem to be one of the most misunderstood infections in women. What you mention about women being pregnant and having BV is spot on.

    I think it was the CDC site or something like that, that stated it can cause you to have a premature baby. But anyway, this is great information.

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