Bacterial Vaginosis (BV), which may also be referred to as Gardnerella vaginitis or vaginal bacterial is a very common disease that is yet to be properly understood. It is caused by an imbalance of bacteria in the vagina. Though the activities of bacteria are needed in the vagina, but when they are in excess, it leads to this common condition. Although this disease does not usually lead to any form of vagina itching or soreness, there is always a discharge from the vagina that has a fish-kind of smell. The color of this foul discharge is either gray or white, and it is watery and thin. The risk related to this condition is that it may lead to early child bearing among women that are pregnant and may also increase the chance of infection from other STDs including HIV.
Bacterial Vaginosis Causes
The real cause of BV is basically the imbalance of bacteria that are naturally present in the vagina. Lactobacilli are bacteria that are present in the vagina, which secrete lactic acid- an acid that keep the vagina in a slightly acidic state, and thus inhibit the growth of bacteria.
When there is a temporary shortage of lactobacilli in the vagina, it loses it acidic state and thus gives room for the growth of other bacteria. What causes this disease is still vague, but you stand a high chance of suffering from it if you are a promiscuous woman, you use intra uterine device and if you are a smoker. BV is predominant in black women when compared to other races.
Signs and Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis :
Occasionally, many women with this bacterial disease do not experience any form of symptom as it does not cause vaginal itching or soreness, but there is always:
- A watery discharge from the vagina with a fish-like smell and foul odor.
- Unlike normal vaginal discharge, it is grayish or whitish in color. It is described as yellow by some women.
Other diseases that share almost the same signs and symptoms include vaginal-yeast infection and some STI like Chlamydia, trichmoniasis and gonorrhea.
You may get tested by your doctor for BV if you have symptoms or you will be involved in surgical abortion or hysterectomy as there is a high risk of infection afterwards.
Lab Tests To Reveal Signs Of This Bacterial Disease Include:
- Wet Mount – In this test, sample of discharge from the vagina is mixed together with salt solution after being placed on a slide in microscope. The slide is then carefully observed to find which white blood corpuscles point to infection, to ascertain what bacteria is present and to find abnormal cells named clue cells. If this clue cells are present, then there is likely to be bacterial vaginosis (VB).
- Vaginal PH – Vaginal pH normally ranges between 3.7 and 4.5. The pH usually rises above 4.5 if this bacterial condition is available.
- Whiff Test – Drops of KOH (potassium hydroxide)are added into a vaginal discharge sample to ascertain if any fishy smell emanates. If there is fishy smell, then BV may be present.
- Oligonucleotide Probes – The purpose of this test is to find the genetic constituents of BV. This test is very reliable but not always available in many labs.
Therefore, if the vaginal pH is high or above normal, clue cells are present and whiff test shows positive, we can conclude that Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) treatment is necessary.
For a person to be diagnosed, a series of tests need to be carried out in the lab. Sample of vaginal discharge is used in carrying out this test. Another useful tool that can be used to diagnose BV is through regular pelvic exam. This helps to know what causes the infection. It is not advisable to ignore the symptoms you are feeling from BV or to prolong treatment. Early diagnosis decreases the chance of further complications. Get tested as soon as possible if you notice any signs or symptoms so that proper treatment can be administered to you.
After being diagnosed with BV and treatment is not followed up immediately, major complication may arise and severe consequence may be the outcome. The risk you stand to face when treatments are ignored are:
- Untimely child bearing among women
- You may get infected by other STDs such as HIV.
How To Prevent BV :
- Make sure you avoid douching at all cost
- Consistently use condoms
- Reduce you sex partners
Is Bacterial Vaginosis(BV) Contagious?
Yes it is. It may be transferred from one woman to another when there is sexual contact. By thoroughly sterilizing sex toys shared between partners, you may be protected from this contagious disease. This disease condition is not tagged a STI. Nonetheless, if you are suffering from BV and exposed to a sexual infection, chances that you will get infected is high. Whether you have BV or not, safer sex should be practiced because it is easier to prevent than to treat infections.
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) Types :
- Bacteroides bacteria
- Mobiluncus bacteria
- Chlamydia vaginitis
- Trichomoniasis vaginitis
For most women, this disease is treated easily without any form of problems or complications. However, if there is any form of negligence from the sufferer, the risk of developing complications may occur. Below is a list of complications that may arise if Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is not treated timely.
- Pregnancy Complications – This may include premature birth, breaking of the amniotic sac at an early stage, miscarriage and chorioamnionitis.
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease – This disease causes swelling in the upper region of female genital organ.
- In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) – Women suffering from BV are in risk of early miscarriage and low success chance of using IVF.
Home Remedies :
Lactobacillus acidophilus present in yogurt or other supplements has been used by some women to treat BV. Unfortunately, dairy lactobacillus is not effective for BV because it is impossible for diary lactobacillus bacteria to survive in there. Research needs to be carried out to know which lactobacillus normally survive in a vagina.
The preferred and most common antibiotic for treating Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is metronidazole. During treatment, cleaning of the vagina should be avoided to prevent further complications.