What is Bacterial Vaginosis, Causes and Treatment

10 Jun
By Marie

Bacterial vaginosis is a common vaginal infection, which occurs when certain bacteria in the vagina that normally exist in small numbers overgrow or multiply quickly.

Bacterial vaginosis and its causes

The cause of bacterial vaginosis is not fully understood. It has been demonstrated that bacterial vaginosis is caused by an overgrowth of various bacteria. It is not caused by a single type of bacteria. There are a large number of good bacteria in the vagina that keeps the number of harmful bacteria very low. The infection, called bacterial vaginosis develops when the number of harmful bacteria increases in number than good bacteria. Experts describe these changes like changes in the bacterial flora of the vagina from Lactobacillus species to high concentrations of anaerobic bacteria. The condition is not considered as a sexually transmitted disease as the bacteria come from your body, not from a sexual partner. Also, the infection does not get passed on to male sexual partner, and he does not need any treatment. However, in some women, bacterial vaginosis is associated with the sexual practice. It may occur after a change in sexual partner. In such cases also, the infection is not caught from another male partner. However, this change may alter the balance of normal vaginal bacteria.

Bacterial vaginosis is not due to poor hygiene. In fact, excessive rinsing of the vagina may change the normal balance of vaginal bacteria, which may make the infection more likely to develop.

Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis

The symptoms may include gray vaginal discharge; it is one of the main symptoms of bacterial vaginosis. The discharge has a fishy smell. Bacterial vaginosis is the commonest cause of vaginal discharge in adult women. The fishy smell may be most noticeable while sexual practice. The vaginal discharge tends to be thicker and more just after menstrual periods and sexual practice. The vaginal discharge does not cause itching or soreness in the reproductive area.

Some women do not experience any symptoms. These women get to know about the infection by chance while cleaning of the vagina and other reasons. The infection can occur in any woman, but it is prevalent in women who have an intrauterine contraceptive device (IUCD). According to studies, about half of women using an IUCD had bacterial vaginosis at least one time over a two year period.

Diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis

The typical vaginal discharge with fish smell can make bacterial vaginosis likely. The discharge due to the infection has a typical pH level as compared to other causes.

To identify whether it is bacterial vaginosis or not, your doctor will perform a test by swabbing of the vaginal discharge. Other related laboratory tests may also show to identify the right cause of the problem.

Possible complications

  • If you have left untreated bacterial vaginosis, you may have an increased risk of developing pregnancy complications. These may include infection of the uterus after delivery, early labor or even miscarriage.
  • There is an increased risk of developing an infection of the womb following certain surgeries. For example vaginal hysterectomy. However, a patient with bacterial vaginosis is provided by antibiotics before operations of the uterus to prevent the infection.

Treatment of bacterial vaginosis

Metronidazole is a medication, which is used commonly for bacterial vaginosis. In most cases, it eliminates the infection within a period of 7 to 8 days. The recommended that work to balance the vaginal bacteria are 400 mg two times daily. Some women can feel sick and even vomit while taking Metronidazole. To avoid this problem, take medicine just after consuming food. You may also experience a metallic taste as an adverse effect.

Patients are not allowed to consume alcohol while taking metronidazole and for at least two days after completing the treatment. If taken along with alcohol, it can make you vomit and may cause other health related issues.

Lactating women should exercise caution while taking medicine for bacterial vaginosis as it can get into breast milk. However, the medicine is not known to affect the nursing a baby. To play safe, it is recommended that you take a one week course and that also with a preferred lower dose so that the baby does not receive the large dose of metronidazole.

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