Bacterial Vaginosis

Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Remedies

Bacterial Vaginosis Treatment Remedies


The contents of this app are provided for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. The information provided should not be considered as a substitute for the advice of a medical doctor or other healthcare professional.

What is Bacterial Vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis - not to be confused with candidiasis (yeast infection) or Trichomonas vaginalis (trichomoniasis) which are not caused by bacteria.

In the healthy vagina, there is a multitude of naturally occurring bacterial flora present that exist without causing any problems.

One particular bacteria type, lactobacilli, produces hydrogen peroxide to help prevent other species from over-multiplying and causing symptoms. 95% of the helpful bacteria present within the vagina are of this type and they help to keep the environment acidic, preventing overgrowth of other, more damaging types of bacteria.

The “bad” bacteria responsible for causing this infection are anaerobic organisms, meaning they can survive without the presence of oxygen in their environment.

In women who are HIV-positive, also having bacterial vaginosis can make it worse. It has been shown that women with bacterial vaginosis have elevated amounts of the virus in their vagina compared to those who don’t.

Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis

Sexual intercourse may become painful. Although this could be due to bacterial vaginosis, it is rather unlikely.

Sometimes, there are no obvious symptoms present to indicate a diagnosis.

Around 50% of women will not have any symptoms.

For the majority of women, bacterial vaginosis is not serious and will not pose any long term problems regarding pregnancy.

If symptoms do occur during pregnancy, it is important to be examined as it may contribute to pregnancy-related complications in some cases.

Not treating the condition in the long term may lead to increased risks of genital warts, chlamydia and gonorrhea.

BV can Increase your chance of getting HIV if you have sex with someone who is infected with HIV.

If you are HIV positive, BV increases your chance of passing HIV to your sex partner.

BV makes it more likely that you will deliver your baby too early if you have BV while pregnant.

BV can Increase your chance of getting other STDs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. These bacteria can sometimes cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can make it difficult or impossible for you to have children.

If you have it when you are pregnant, it increases the risk of miscarriage, early (preterm) delivery, and uterine infection after pregnancy.

If you have it when you have a pelvic procedure such as a cesarean section, an abortion, or a hysterectomy, you are more likely to get a pelvic infection.

Bacterial Vaginosis Causes

Although it frequently develops after sexual intercourse with a new partner, bacterial vaginosis is not considered as an STI (sexually transmitted infection). BV is more common in women with multiple partners.

Bacterial vaginosis does not tend to be classified as a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Nevertheless, sexual contact and intercourse is considered to be a risk in contracting the condition.

Potentially, women may be able to pass the infection on to other women through sexual intercourse.

Male sexual partners are unaffected and it cannot be passed on through male-female sexual intercourse.

The rate of bacterial vaginosis is higher amongst women who have frequent and numerous sexual partners.

Women who use a condom during sex are less likely to contract the condition.

Other possible causes of bacterial vaginosis are using scented soap on the genital area, douching, having an intrauterine device, smoking, and poor diet.

It may just be the case that your vagina is not home to enough useful lactobacillus bacteria, therefore making it far more likely that you will suffer from frequent infections.

Smoking and the use of some hygiene products are linked to a higher risk of developing BV.

Washing underwear with strong detergents.

Perfumed bubble baths and some scented soaps.

Having a bath with antiseptic liquids.

Diagnosis of Bacterial Vaginosis

Diagnosis is not as simple as simply finding one type of bacteria and dealing with it. Multiple types in varying quantities all work together to produce the symptoms of the infection, therefore it is important to deal with them as a whole.

Your doctor is only likely to examine you for bacterial vaginosis if you present with symptoms relating to your discharge. However, if you are about to have a hysterectomy or surgical abortion, you may also be tested as the complication rate is increased if you have bacterial vaginosis.

Diagnosis is done using a combination of medical history, physical examination and pathological laboratory testing.

During the physical examination, the cervix will be looked at to see whether there is any inflammation which may indicate a more serious infection.

The vaginal walls are physically examined as often this can rule out other potential causes of any presented symptoms.

When diagnosing the condition, other causes of abnormal vaginal discharge need to be ruled out, such as the yeast infection thrush and trichomoniasis.

Whilst inspecting the characteristics of the discharge itself based on appearance and viscosity, clinicians use the Amsel criteria of diagnosis. For bacterial vaginosis to be suspected, the discharge must be thin, yellow, white and/or homogeneous in nature.

To diagnose bacterial vaginosis, doctors may take a swab to perform a wet mount test on. This entails mixing a discharge sample with saline (salt water) then mounting onto a microscopic slide to see if any abnormalities are present. “Clue cells” so named because they indicate the cause of the abnormal discharge, being vaginal wall cells (epithelia) smothered in bacteria attached to their surface. The presence of white blood cells also indicates an active infection.

A whiff test is a laboratory test often performed when trying to determine the cause of a problematic vaginal discharge. A swab sample is taken and then mixed with several drops of potassium hydroxide to see whether a strong fishy smell is given off, characteristic of the disease.

Looking at the vagina’s acidity may also allow for doctors to identify whether bacterial vaginosis is present or not. Normally, the vagina has a slightly acidic environment of pH 3.5-4. After taking a swab, litmus paper is used to assess pH and if a reading of higher than 4.5 is uncovered, then bacterial vaginosis is most likely present.

Sometimes, DNA testing can be used to diagnose the problem in some patients. Oligonucleotide testing identifies any DNA belonging to the offending bacteria causing the infection. This is a very accurate form of testing, but not routinely available due to costs.

Pathologists may explain a specimen of discharge under a microscope to see if any “clue cells” are present. These cells are so named because they indicate the cause of the abnormal discharge, being vaginal wall cells (epithelia) smothered in bacteria attached to their surface.

At least 3 of 4 pathological testing parameters should come back positive for a diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis to be confirmed. Some clinicians however believe 2 out of 4 are sufficient for diagnosis.

A relatively new technique called BVBLUE may be more useful in diagnosis as studies have shown the test to produce specific, accurate and comprehensive results. The test looks for sialidase activity, the enzyme present in the bad bacteria that are abundant in an infection.

If you think you may have it, talk to a doctor or nurse who might recommend a test if you have signs and symptoms.

Bacterial vaginosis is not a sexually transmitted infection but it is important that you don’t delay getting advice if you think you may have been at risk of a sexually transmitted infection.

Bacterial Vaginosis Treatment

The antibiotic metronidazole can be taken in 3 different ways; as a tablet taken twice daily, a single large dose only taken once and as a gel applied to the vagina.

In the majority of cases, clinicians recommend that antibiotic treatment be continued for five to seven days.

Antibiotics can be taken if you begin to have symptoms of bacterial vaginosis whilst you are pregnant. In breastfeeding mothers, the gel treatment is recommended because the tablets can contaminate break milk.

If you are unable to take metronidazole, perhaps due to a previous allergic reaction, then an alternative antibiotic can be prescribed. Clindamycin cream is a potential alternative, applied to the inside of the vagina once a day over seven days.

It is absolutely vital to complete the prescribed course of antibiotics when being treated for bacterial vaginosis or any other condition requiring antibiotic treatments. This is still the case even if you start to feel better after the first few days of treatment. Failure to do so could risk a recurrence of the symptoms.

Although rare, metronidazole can sometime induce side effects. These include vomiting, nausea and a metallic taste in your mouth. If you are concerned or start vomiting when taking the drug, consult your doctor immediately as they may recommend a different form of treatment.

Rarely, some women to do respond well to the first course of antibiotic treatment and still have bacterial vaginosis at the end. At this point, your doctor will check that you following the medicine instructions and took the correct dose at the right times. If everything was done correctly, another form of treatment will be prescribed to clear the infection.

As intrauterine devices (IUDs) can significantly contribute to bacterial vaginosis, to prevent any further problems you may have to have it removed and use a different type of contraception.

Evidence on the effectiveness of pH treatments is mixed, with some studies suggesting they help whereas others imply antibiotics are a better solution. Regardless, it is best to seek expert medical advice before taking any course of action.

If it is the case that you have had repeated episodes of bacterial vaginosis in a short space of time, usually 6-8 months, then you may be referred to specialized clinic dealing with genitourinary medicine. If there is anything underlying that may be causing the condition, this can be identified and dealt with appropriately.

Pregnant women will often also be seen by their midwife or obstetrician to ensure that no harm will come to the unborn child. They will discuss any treatment options with you, including whether there are any risks with regards to the pregnancy.

Tinidazole is another antibiotic that, compared to metronidazole seems to have fewer side effects whilst still being effective in treating bacterial vaginosis.

Do not treat yourself for vaginal discharge problems. Always consult the advice of a medical professional before proceeding with any treatment plans.

BV will sometimes go away without treatment. But if you have symptoms of BV you should be checked and treated.

Bacterial Vaginosis Prevention

Sharing sexual toys may be a potential cause of bacterial vaginosis, although the exactly how remains unclear. It is therefore important to ensure all toys are washed in a sterile manner prior to shared usage.

Using vaginal deodorant may increase the likelihood of getting bacterial vaginosis. If you are concerned about the smell of your discharge, it is imperative that you visit your doctor to discuss it further and certainly avoid all forms of vaginal deodorant.

Washing your vagina with soap whilst in the shower is not recommended. The vagina actually has self cleaning mechanisms so you don’t have to and cleaning it yourself can make things worse rather than better. To reduce your chances of suffering from a vaginal problem, do not use any strong soaps or lotions around the genital area.

It is believed that smokes are at higher risk of getting bacterial vaginosis. So if heart disease or cancer wasn’t enough reason to quit, now you can add abnormal vaginal discharge to the list.

Try to limit the number of sexual partners you have as with each new partner, the normal environment of your vagina is exposed to change. The higher the number, the greater the risk of suffering from not only bacteria vaginosis but other diseases as well such as STIs.

Request a different form of contraception if you are using an intrauterine device.

Try to wash your underwear with a gentle detergent rather than something stronger as remnants may remain following a wash which can then influence the vagina whilst you wear them.

Wearing underwear made of natural fibers may help reduce the incidence of infection. The bacteria responsible for the disease are anaerobic, meaning they thrive when there is no oxygen available. By wearing breathable underwear, oxygen can flood into the region and help the good bacteria overcome the bad.

Bacterial vaginosis is not considered to be a contagious condition, but the transmission amongst bacteria is poorly understood so we cannot be 100% certain.

Always use a male latex condom whilst engaging in sexual intercourse. Males may carry bacteria that cause the condition on their penis.

Reduce semen exposure (which can affect the vaginal bacteria balance) by using condom.

After using the bathroom, wipe from front to back to avoid bacteria being spread from the anus to the vagina.

Maintain a monogamous relationship.

Educating yourself about the signs of the condition will allow you to take action as soon as you detect something amiss.

Using birth control medication may be helpful.

It is important to finish the full course of antibiotics every time they are prescribed, no matter what the infection or reason.

Yogurt is believed by many to be a fantastic preventative and home remedy for bacterial vaginosis. However, scientists are undecided on its effectiveness as the bacteria present in yogurt differ from the naturally good flora present in the vagina.

If you develop BV three or more times in a year, talk to your health care professional medications or using intravaginal metronidazole as a prophylactic for three to six months.

Do not push water into your vagina to clean it (douching). The vagina needs no specific cleaning.

Do not add bath oils, antiseptics, scented soaps, perfumed bubble bath, shampoos, etc, to bath water.

Do not use strong detergents to wash your underwear.

Do not wash around your vagina and vulva too often. Once a day is usually enough.

Bacterial Vaginosis Statistics & Facts

In the United States alone, over 20 million women between the ages of 14-49 are believed to suffer from bacterial vaginosis each year.

Bacterial vaginosis can affect any woman, regardless of whether or not they have had a sexual encounter.

Bacterial vaginosis is most commonly seen in women of childbearing age, and is in fact the most common vaginal complaint amongst these people.

People who contract an STI may also suffer from bacterial vaginosis, as an estimated 60% of people with an STI are also found to have the condition.

The rates of bacterial vaginosis differ depending on ethnicity. Hispanic and African- American women are believed to have the highest prevalence rates.

Bacterial vaginosis is not dangerous. It can however cause disturbing and embarrassing symptoms which is usually why people seek treatment.

The condition cannot be caught by using swimming pools, toilet seats or from touching contaminated surfaces.

One study has shown that recurrence rates may be as high as 80% within the first 6-months following an infection

Recurrent infection is defined as having 3 or more episodes within a year.

There is a great deal of debate amongst experts as to whether the condition classes as sexual transmitted or not. More research is required into the mechanisms by which the infection arises to answer this conundrum.

Bacterial vaginosis is the most common vaginal infection in women ages 15-44.

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal infection in women of childbearing age. In the United States, BV is common in pregnant women.

The percentage of women who have been found to have BV, but had no reported symptoms: 84%.

18% of the women who get bacterial vaginosis every year have not had any oral, anal, or vaginal sex in their lifetime.

Minority women have a higher risk of developing BV. African American risks are twice that of Caucasian women of European descent.

The prevalence of BV increases based on lifetime number of sexual partners.

About 21 million women under the age of 49 suffer from an outbreak of BV at least once per year.

Having BV can increase a woman’s chance of getting an STD.

Pregnant women with BV may deliver premature or low birth-weight babies.

The chance that a woman will have BV over the course of the year: 1 in 424.

In the United States, as many as 16% of pregnant women have BV.

BV is the most common cause of vaginal discharge that is considered to be abnormal.

It is the most common vaginal infection in women ages 15-44.

Having BV can increase the chances of getting HIV or other STDs when it is present.

If you have BV and HIV, it increases the chances of virus transmission during sexual contact.

It is not possible to get BV from a toilet seat, bedding, or touching objects that are around you.

BV is a leading cause of pelvic inflammatory disease, which can create an infection that can interfere with a woman’s reproductive system.

The main symptoms of bacterial vaginosis are vaginal discharge and odor.

Treatment options for bacterial vaginosis include oral antibiotics and vaginal gels.

Recurrence of BV is possible, even after successful treatment. It is easier to have BV after an infection has occurred.

The percentage of women who have an STD and also have BV: 60%.

Studies have shown that approximately 29% of women in the U.S. are affected.

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal infection in women of childbearing age.

In the United States, BV is common in pregnant women.

Having BV can increase a woman's susceptibility to HIV infection if she is exposed to the HIV virus.

Having BV increases the chances that an HIV-infected woman can pass HIV to her sex partner.

Having BV has been associated with an increase in the development of an infection following surgical procedures such as a hysterectomy or an abortion.

Having BV while pregnant may put a woman at increased risk for some complications of pregnancy, such as preterm delivery.

BV can increase a woman's susceptibility to other STDs, such as herpes simplex virus (HSV), chlamydia and gonorrhea.

Pregnant women with BV more often have babies who are born premature or with low birth weight (low birth weight is less than 5.5 pounds).

According to the National Health Service (NHS), UK, approximately 12% to 30% of adult women in the UK may be affected; about 20% of pregnant women in the UK are affected.

Women who have not had vaginal, oral, or anal sex can still be affected by BV (18.8%), as can pregnant women (25%), and women who have ever been pregnant (31.7%).

Non white women have higher rates (African-American 51%, Mexican Americans 32%) than white women (23%).

Pregnant women with BV may deliver premature (early) or low birth-weight babies.

Bacterial Vaginosis Treatment Remedies plus

The contents of this app are provided for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. The information provided should not be considered as a substitute for the advice of a medical doctor or other healthcare professional.

What is Bacterial Vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis is caused by an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the vagina, wherein the good bacteria are outnumbered by the bad kind.

An imbalance of bacteria in turn results in an altered chemical environment within the vagina and allows the infection to thrive. Experts are not completely sure how this occurs, but a number of risk factors have been identified.

A change in pH may lead to the reduction of useful bacteria within the vagina, increasing the risk of disease. This pH change can be externally induced during washing, or caused by the death of the acid making lactobacilli.

The condition once was called Gardnerella Vaginitis, named after the bacteria believed to cause bacterial vaginosis. Today we call it Bacterial Vaginosis to reflect the fact that multiple different types of bacterial species are believed to contribute to the pathology.

Generally, bacterial vaginosis is not a serious problem and it may indeed clear up on its own within a few days. Nevertheless, it is always best to consult professional medical advice as it can become more serious if untreated.

Bacterial Vaginosis Symptoms

The disease is characterized by abnormal vaginal discharge.

The discharge may present a strong fishy smell, especially prominent following sexual intercourse.

Discharge may appear off-white or Grey in color.

There is usually no itchiness or soreness present, but sometimes individuals can experience some slight irritation of the vagina and vulva.

Rarely, some ladies may experience burning during urination.

Bacterial Vaginosis Causes

Using scented soap on the genital area may increase the likelihood of experiencing bacterial vaginosis.

Douching a major risk factor for bacterial vaginosis. This entails washing out the vaginal cavity with water or other liquids, with women believing they are “cleaning” the vagina. However, most doctors do not recommend the practice and research has shown that those who douche experience more health problems than those who don’t.

Having an intrauterine device (IUD) fitted may increase the risk of bacterial vaginosis. An IUD is a form of contraception that is fitted into the womb to induce an environment where sperm cannot survive, thus preventing pregnancy.

Smoking also seems to increase the risk of suffering from bacterial vaginosis. Research suggests that women who smoke are twice as likely to get this affliction compared to those who don’t smoke.

Diet may also play a role in the cause of bacterial vaginosis. Some research has shown that women who have a high fat diet are up to two times more likely to suffer from the infection than those who don’t.

Bacterial Vaginosis Treatment

Antibiotics are considered the most effective first-line treatment for anyone suffering with bacterial vaginosis.

Metronidazole is the main antibiotic used for treating this disease as it has been shown to be the most effective and successfully treats the majority of cases. Tinidazole is another antibiotic that, compared to metronidazole seems to have fewer side effects whilst still being effective in treating bacterial vaginosis.

It is strongly advised that you avoid all alcohol while taking antibiotics and continue to do so for a further 48 hours after finishing the treatment. This is because alcohol has been known to worsen the side effects of the treatment.

Correcting the vaginal pH is another potential treatment avenue when it comes to bacterial vaginosis. Available over the counter, you apply a gel inside your vagina that alters the acidity therefore changing the environment to normalize balance of good vs. bad bacteria.

Many believe that probiotics, the good bacteria found in some yogurts and specialized drinks, can either treat or prevent bacterial vaginosis. However, at present there is no evidence that supports this claim therefore other treatments must be pursued. Do not treat yourself for vaginal discharge problems. Always consult the advice of a medical professional before proceeding with any treatment plans.

Bacterial Vaginosis Statistics and Facts

Most women found to have BV (84%) reported no symptoms.

Prevalence of BV increases based on lifetime number of sexual partners.

The prevalence in the United States is estimated to be 21.2 million (29.2%) among women ages 14–49 in 2004.

Some women with BV don't know they have it because they have no symptoms.

Having BV can increase a woman's chance of getting an STD.

A woman cannot pass BV to a man.

pub 48 Diagnosing and Treating

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