Vaginal infection caused by bacteria is called bacterial vaginosis (BV). Most women of childbearing age will experience this condition at some point.
In certain women, bacterial vaginosis can result in vaginal discomfort and a “fishy” odour. It’s possible that some people won’t have any signs or symptoms.
Generally, poor obstetric and gynecologic outcomes, such as premature birth or infection following surgery like a hysterectomy, have been linked to bacterial vaginosis. Alarmingly, women with bacterial vaginosis may be at increased risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases like HIV.
Bacterial vaginosis develops from the overgrowth of one of the numerous bacteria typically occurring in your vagina. Bacteria known as lactobacilli tend to outweigh bacteria known as staph (anaerobes). However, bacterial vaginosis can develop if anaerobic bacteria are abundant in the vagina.
Obviously, like all other diseases, bacterial vaginosis has a preference. Here are the risk factors that ensure a higher likelihood of contracting bacterial vaginosis:
Absence of Lactobacilli
If your natural vaginal environment doesn’t create enough healthy lactobacilli bacteria, then bacterial vaginosis might be a common problem for you.
Having Multiple Sex Partners
Bacterial vaginosis is more common in women who have just begun having sexual relationships or had several sex partners. Women who engage in sexual activity with other women are also more likely to get bacterial vaginosis.
Douching, in which one rinses one’s vagina with water or a cleansing substance, disrupts the delicate vaginal ecosystem. An infection called bacterial vaginosis can result from anaerobic bacteria flourishing without oxygen. Douching isn’t essential because the vagina can clean itself.
Who Is at The Risk of Acquiring Bacterial Vaginosis?
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) can affect anybody with a vagina, regardless of sexual activity. However, that occurrence is unusual. In most cases, it affects sexually active persons. Certain factors may put you at a greater danger of contracting BV, including:
- Indulging in sexual activity with numerous people.
- Having a new sex buddy.
- Avoid using protective measures like condoms and dental dams.
- Putting an intrauterine device (IUD) to prevent pregnancy
- Making use of douches
- Have sexual relations with a woman.
Signs & Symptoms
Your doctor or nurse is the only one who can definitively tell you if you have BV. However, these could be the possible signs and symptoms:
- White (milky) or greyish discharge is possible. The substance might also have a watery or frothy appearance. After sexual activity, some women may also notice a distinct fishy stench.
- Burning sensation during micturition (urination)
- A feeling of itchiness outside the vagina
- Causing discomfort in the genital area
Suffering from BV isn’t a big issue. Sure, it’s uncomfortable but not untreatable.
However, there are some signs and symptoms that need medical attention.
Pay a visit to your gynaecologist if:
- You have fresh, unpleasant-smelling vaginal discharge that may accompany a fever. Your doctor can assist you in identifying symptoms and uncovering the underlying problem.
- You’ve experienced vaginal infections previously, but the discharge appears unusual in colour and consistency this time.
- You have recently acquired a new sex partner or have several regular ones. Sometimes the symptoms of an STI might be mistaken for those of bacterial vaginosis.
- You have a yeast infection and tried to cure it yourself with an OTC medication, but your symptoms keep coming back.
Complications from bacterial vaginosis are uncommon. Bacterial vaginosis can sometimes cause:
Diseases Of The Genital Organs (PID)
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the uterus and fallopian tubes that increases the risk of infertility and is sometimes caused by bacterial vaginosis.
STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections)
Bacterial vaginosis dramatically increases a woman’s risk of contracting STDs, including HIV, HSV-2, chlamydia, and gonorrhoea. Bacterial vaginosis raises the risk of HIV transmission between sexual partners.
Term Births (Premature)
Bacterial vaginosis is associated with preterm delivery and infants with low birth weight when it occurs in pregnant women.
Possible Infections Following Gynaecological Operations
Bacterial vaginosis has been linked to an increased risk of infection following gynaecological surgeries such as hysterectomy and dilatation and curettage (D&C).
Treatment Options for Bacterial Vaginosis
Firstly, avoid sexual activity until you have finished your medication and your symptoms have subsided, as BV can be transmitted through sexual contact. You and your female companion may want to check in with your doctor to determine whether either needs medical attention.
As far as the medicines are concerned, antibiotics (such as metronidazole, clindamycin, and tinidazole) may be prescribed by a doctor to treat BV. This may be a pill taken orally, a vaginal lotion, or gel applied. The typical treatment duration is between 5 and 7 days. Don’t stop taking the medication even if you feel better. The infection may return if treatment is discontinued too soon.
If you have used an IUD in the past and have experienced recurring BV, your doctor may recommend switching to a new method of birth control. You also might want to quit the habit of douching, as it is one of the most common reasons for contracting BV.
However, recurrence of BV is common even when treatment successfully eradicates the virus. If that happens, you’ll have to take antibiotics for a more extended period.
Dos & Don’ts of BV
Here are some techniques that might help you steer away from having BV:
- Wash your privates with water and regular soap.
- Use showers rather than tubs
- Antiseptic solutions should not be used in the tub.
- Avoid using scented shampoos, bubble baths, body washes, or body scrubs in the bath.
- Quit smoking
- Avoid using harsh detergents when washing undergarments.
- No douches, deodorants, or vaginal washes should be used
We understand that some of these might be easier to do than others, but you can try. If BV is a common issue with you, try out these tips and tricks for a change.
As mentioned before, BV is treatable. BV is a frequent ailment brought on by an imbalance between the quantities of beneficial and dangerous vaginal bacteria.
Moreover, BV symptoms may resemble other conditions requiring different therapies. This is why it’s essential for anyone experiencing BV symptoms to get in touch with a doctor first.