Things To Know About Bacterial Vaginosis
A very common infection in women is BV or bacterial vaginosis. One out of three women ends up having it over the course of her life. Statistics estimate that 0.24% of American women have it, among which 16% are pregnant. Unlike common belief, it is not transmitted sexually, though it is fairly common for sexually active women. BV is contracted when there is an overgrowth in a woman’s vaginal bacterial flora.
This infection is usually accompanied with a white-grey discharge that is heaviest right after sex or after a menstruation period. It also emits a rather fishy smell. It’s normally mistaken as a yeast infection due to similarities in symptoms. But, unlike the latter, it doesn’t cause too much itching or soreness. Refrain from self-medicating if you have the symptoms since you may end up using a cure for yeast infection rather than for bacterial infection. It is not uncommon, however, for women to have the infection and not know it.
Causes of this infection are not entirely known up to now. There are lots of natural bacteria in the vagina to help prevent infections. If a certain bacteria flourishes and multiplies more than normal, an imbalance happens, resulting in a vaginal infection. One of the believed causes of BV is excessive washing of the vagina — a direct contrast to poor hygiene as the cause of some infections. Doing so disrupts and changes the natural count of natural bacteria. Other causes are smoking, changes in the hormonal balance, and a poor immune system. In other cases, an IUD or intrauterine device may cause the infection.
Pregnant women are more at risk for any type of infection, and BV is not an exception. An untreated infection can cause problems for the baby and mother alike. It can lead to labor and even miscarriage, and in some instances, the mother develops womb infection after giving birth. Two tests are normally used to check the existence of the infection: taking a vaginal swab sample and testing the acid level of the discharge. A vaginal swab is a way to ensure the identity of the infection. Bacteria is placed in a slide and checked under a microscope. This removes any chance that another infection caused the symptoms. Testing the pH level of the discharge is an easier way. The sample is placed in a pH paper and tested. If it goes beyond the 4.5 level, you have BV infection. Likewise, a whiff test may be done where potassium hydroxide or alkali is added to the sample. A positive indication will bring out a fishy smell in the sample.
Those infected with non-visible to mild symptoms are usually not given any treatment since the vagina’s natural bacteria corrects themselves over time. However, for those with severe symptoms or for pregnant women, a treatment is advised to prevent further complications. Remember to consult your gynecologist if you are pregnant or is currently taking pills or contraceptives to ensure that adverse effects are prevented. Metrodinazole is a common antibiotic prescribed and taken for seven days as a cure. Clindamycin or Metrodinazole vaginal gels can also be used for those who are not willing to risk possible counter indications from using antibiotics. If you’re taking any of the existing BV treatments, refrain from taking alcoholic drinks as the combination can lead to high pulse rate and vomiting. Femanol is a natural alternative treatment.
If you are taking vaginal gels, refrain from engaging in any sexual activity for about a week to prevent the possibility of conception or sexually transmitted diseases (STD). For non-pregnant women, disappearance of the symptoms after treatment is enough for you to be considered cured. To ensure that the infection has been treated for pregnant women, a vaginal swab test a month from the end of treatment may be requested.
Unfortunately, there are reports that a previously infected woman may end up having the infection again after only three months. This is not unique, and one of three women experiences this. You may just need to repeat the treatment you took before to take care of BV. IUD is a common suspect for the infection, so your doctor may ask you to have it removed before treatment. If so, try to look for alternative contraceptives to use. A vaginal swab test may also be requested to disqualify other types of infection that may be causing your symptoms.
Due to the hassles of dealing with bacterial vaginosis, prevention may be the best thing you can do. Do not douche or force water in your vagina. Practice washing your vagina for no more than two times a day. Refrain from taking baths with perfumed oils and bubble baths, as well as antiseptics. When washing your underwear, use only mild soaps and detergents.