What is Bacterial Vaginosis

Dr Foram Bhuta

Dr Foram Bhuta

BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery), 10 years of experience

February 15, 2022 Womens Health 146 Views

English हिन्दी Bengali

What is the meaning of Bacterial Vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis is a kind of vaginal inflammation that is caused due to the overgrowth of bacteria that is naturally found in the vagina, which upsets the natural balance. Bacterial vaginosis is commonly seen in women in their reproductive age, although it can occur at any age.

Bacterial vaginosis may cause vaginal irritation and lead to a fishy odor. Although it does not cause any health problems, it can lead to issues when you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant.

In this article, we will be discussing in detail about bacterial vaginosis.

  • What are the causes of Bacterial Vaginosis?
  • What are the risk factors of Bacterial Vaginosis?
  • What are the symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis?
  • How to diagnose Bacterial Vaginosis?
  • What is the treatment for Bacterial Vaginosis?
  • What are the complications of Bacterial Vaginosis?
  • How to prevent Bacterial Vaginosis?

What are the causes of Bacterial Vaginosis?

  • The overgrowth of one of the many bacteria that is naturally found in the vagina causes bacterial vaginosis.
  • A type of bacteria known as lactobacillus keeps the vagina slightly acidic so that the bad bacteria cannot grow well.
  • If the levels of lactobacillus bacteria drop, more bad bacteria can move in causing bacterial vaginosis.

( Know more about- What is Inflammatory Vaginitis? )

What are the risk factors of Bacterial Vaginosis?

Certain factors increase the risk of developing bacterial vaginosis and may include:

  • Multiple sex partners
  • New sex partner
  • Female sex partner
  • Douching (rinsing out the vagina with water or a cleansing agent)
  • Lack of lactobacilli bacteria naturally
  • Pregnancy
  • Unsafe sex
  • Smoking
  • Using scented soaps, bubble baths, and vaginal deodorants
  • Washing the underwear using strong detergents

( Know more about- What is C section Delivery? )

What are the symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis?

The symptoms of bacterial vaginosis may include:

  • Fishy, foul-smelling vaginal odor
  • Gray, green, or white-colored, thin vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal itching
  • Burning during urination

You should see a doctor immediately if you notice the following symptoms:

  • The new vaginal discharge associated with fever or odor
  • If you have multiple sex partners or a new sex partner
  • If you have had vaginal infections before, but the consistency and color of the discharge is different this time
  • Symptoms persist even after treatment for yeast (fungal) infection

( Know more about- What is Vaginal Irritation? )

How to diagnose Bacterial Vaginosis?

  • Physical examination: The doctor will check your overall health status by examining you physically. You will be asked about your medical history, like questions about any sexually transmitted diseases or vaginal infections in the past.
  • Pelvic exam: The doctor will visually examine your vagina for any signs of infection. The doctor will insert two lubricated and gloved fingers into your vagina while pressing on your abdomen (stomach) with the other hand to check the female reproductive organs for any signs of disease.
  • Testing the vaginal pH: The doctor will check the acidity of the vagina by the placement of a pH test strip in the vagina. A pH of 4.5 or higher may indicate bacterial vaginosis.
  • Vaginal secretions sample: The doctor may take a sample of your vaginal secretions to check for the overgrowth of anaerobic bacteria in the vaginal flora. The vaginal secretions are examined under a microscope to look for clue cells, which are vaginal cells that are covered with bacteria. These cells indicate the presence of bacterial vaginosis.

( Know more about- What is Pap smear? )

What is the treatment for Bacterial Vaginosis?

The doctor may prescribe the following medications for the treatment of bacterial vaginosis:

Metronidazole:

  • This medication can be taken orally in the form of a pill.
  • It is also available in the form of a topical gel, that can be inserted into the vagina.
  • Avoid alcohol consumption during the use of this medication and for at least one day after the completion of the treatment to prevent side effects like abdominal pain, nausea, and stomach upset.

Tinidazole:

  • This medicine can be taken orally.
  • Avoid alcohol consumption during the treatment and for at least three days after the completion of the treatment to prevent side effects like nausea and stomach upset.

Clindamycin:

  • This medication is available in the form of a cream that is inserted into the vagina.
  • Clindamycin may weaken the latex condoms during the treatment and for at least three days after stopping the cream.

Secnidazole:

  • This is a type of antibiotic that is taken orally as a single dose.
  • The medicine comes in the form of a packet of granules that can be sprinkled onto soft foods like yogurt, pudding, or applesauce.
  • The mixture has to be eaten within 30 minutes while being careful not to chew or crunch the granules.

Treatment for recurrence:

  • Bacterial vaginosis can recur within three to twelve months, even after treatment.
  • Contact your doctor if the symptoms recur after treatment.
  • Some doctors recommend an extended use of metronidazole therapy.
  • Lactobacillus colonization therapy helps in boosting the number of good bacteria in the vagina and re-establishing a balanced vaginal environment. This can be accomplished by eating certain kinds of yogurt or other foods that contain lactobacilli. This is known as probiotic therapy.

( Know more about- What are the symptoms of Sexually Transmitted Diseases? )

What are the complications of Bacterial Vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis may lead to the following complications:

  • More susceptibility to sexually transmitted infections like HIV, herpes simplex virus, chlamydia, or gonorrhea (infections that spread by unsafe sexual activity)
  • Premature deliveries
  • Low birth weight babies
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease, which is the infection of the uterus (womb) and the fallopian tubes (tubes that carry the eggs from the ovaries to the uterus)

( Know more about- What is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease? )

  • Infertility

( Know more about- What is Infertility in Women? )

  • Increased risk of post-surgical infection following procedures like hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) or dilation and curettage (dilation of the cervix, which is the lower end of the uterus, and tissue removal from inside the uterus)

( Know more about- What is Hysterectomy? )

How to prevent Bacterial Vaginosis?

The following tips can help in the prevention of bacterial vaginosis:

  • Use mild, non-deodorant soaps
  • Use unscented pads or tampons
  • Do not douche
  • Practice safe sex by using a condom
  • Avoid having multiple sex partners

( Know more about- What is Condom? )

We hope that we could answer all your questions regarding Bacterial Vaginosis through this article.

If you need more information related to bacterial vaginosis, then you can contact a Gynecologist.

We only aim to provide you with information through this article. We do not recommend any medicine or treatment. Only a doctor can give you the best advice and correct treatment plan. 

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