Bacterial Vaginosis – What It Is and How to Treat It

Bacterial vaginosis (abbreviated BV) is a women’s disease particularly situated at the vagina that is mainly caused by an excessive presence or growth of bacterial organisms.  Bacterial vaginosis is also referred to as Gardnerella vaginitis or vaginal bacteriosis.  The most common symptom of bacterial vaginosis is a notable vaginal discharge that usually has a fishy smell. This discharge is often seen as gray or white in color.  The discharge will be seen to surround and coat the vaginal walls, and the affected patient will not feel any notable pain, irritation or redness.  A burning sensation may be felt whenever an affected female is urinating.  Extreme itchiness is considered an uncommon symptom in bacterial vaginosis patients.

In many cases, females who have bacterial vaginosis do not experience any symptoms at all.  Thus, having bacterial vaginosis significantly increases the risk of getting an infection by a variety of other STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) including HIV or AIDS.  Additionally, having bacterial vaginosis increases the risk of pregnant women to experience an early delivery.

Bacterial vaginosis is actually the most common type of vaginal infection affecting females of reproductive capacity.  Any female can be affected at any given time.  Bacterial vaginosis occurs commonly in many parts of Africa while it does not occur often in Europe and Asia.  In the United States, around 25% to 30% of females between the ages of 15 and 50 are affected.

Bacterial vaginosis is practically caused via an imbalanced number of naturally-occurring bacteria just outside and within the vagina.  If a patient has bacterial vaginosis, this means that there is usually a higher number of the most common type of bacteria; for instance, if there was normally a hundred, there could be a thousandfold increase in the total count of bacteria present in a female that has bacterial vaginosis.  Risk factors or things that cause bacterial vaginosis include excessive douching (significantly alters the normal vaginal flora), multiple sex partners, new sex partner, certain antibiotics, utilizing a contaminated intrauterine device, etc.  Take note that bacterial vaginosis is not actually considered as a sexually transmitted disease (STD).  The diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis is based on the patient’s symptoms, and it can be confirmed via the appearance of the vaginal discharge, the presence of unusually huge numbers of bacteria, and a higher-than-normal pH of the vagina.  In many cases, people often confuse bacterial vaginosis as just a simple vaginal yeast infection or an infection caused by Trichomonas.

Bacterial vaginosis is normally treated with the antibiotic, either metronidazole or clindamycin.  These medicines are also perfectly safe to use for pregnant women who are in their second or third trimesters. However, the downside to this is that bacterial vaginosis always often recurs after treatment.  Therefore, taking care of oneself and taking probiotics can help prevent the recurrence of bacterial vaginosis.

Note that bacterial vaginosis is considered a risk factor for STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), HIV, pelvic inflammatory disease, reproductive disorders, etc.  It is also possible for non-sexually active persons to become infected with bacterial vaginosis.  Even women who have undergone menopause can also sometimes get bacterial vaginosis.