Bacterial vaginosis is a vaginal infection that strikes millions of women all across the world. Its symptoms are so mild that sometimes they can be misleading. This article provides some information on its common symptoms, that would give one a clear picture of this ailment.
Bacterial vaginosis, formerly known as Gardnerella Vaginalis and nonspecific vaginitis, is a vaginal infection that occurs due to the overgrowth of certain bacteria in the vagina. Bacterial vaginosis primarily affects the vagina, urethra, bladder, and the skin in the genital area, and is more commonly observed in women of childbearing age. It is a painful inflammation of the vagina, that may lead to pelvic inflammatory disease and other serious complications, if left untreated. Especially in pregnant women, symptoms can spread up in to the uterus and cause premature delivery or low-birth weight in babies.
Although bacterial vaginosis is not a STD, it may occur due to sexual intercourse. This condition mainly occurs due to the overgrowth of anaerobic bacteria and the Gardnerella organism in the vagina. A healthy vagina contains small and balanced amounts of these bacteria and microorganisms. However, when the vaginal balance is disrupted by their overgrowth due to internal infections, a protective bacterium, called lactobacilli that acts as a natural disinfectant and maintains the vaginal pH, is unable to maintain a healthy balance between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria in the vagina which eventually results in bacterial vaginosis. Rough or unhealthy sexual practices can increase the vaginal pH, which may also lead to the symptoms. Moisture in the vaginal area, excessive use of antibiotics, tobacco smoking, and poor hygiene are some other probable causes of this condition. Using an intrauterine device (IUD), douching, and having multiple sex partners are some other contributing factors for the same.
Signs and Symptoms
Although the symptoms of this condition are so mild that most of the women are unaware of being infected by it, some of the common signs or symptoms indicative of this vaginal infection are:
- Unusual vaginal discharge with an offensive odor
- White or gray thin vaginal discharge
- A strong fish-like odor after sexual intercourse
- Itchiness or soreness around the vagina and vulva
- Painful and burning sensation while urinating
The doctor may ask the affected person a series of questions related to the infection, like presence of other symptoms such as fever, pelvic pain, or history of any sexually transmitted infections. The doctor may perform a pelvic exam to analyze the vaginal lining and cervix. He/she may also perform a manual exam of the ovaries and uterus to evaluate the severity of the infection. To distinguish bacterial vaginosis from other vaginal infections, the doctor may examine vaginal discharge under microscope to detect presence of a vaginal cell called clue cell. This examination also helps in detecting the number of ‘good’ bacteria, called lactobacilli in the vagina, and the vaginal pH. If there are few ‘good’ vaginal bacteria and the pH is greater than 4.5, the person is diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis.
This condition in women can be treated by the use of both allopathic and homeopathic medications, hence, one can combine the doctor’s prescribed treatment with homeopathic remedies for bacterial vaginosis. Its treatment primarily comprises antibiotics like Metronidazole pill (Flagyl), vaginal metronidazole gel (Metrogel), vaginal clindamycin cream (Cleocin), and Tinidazole, that are considered to be highly effective in curing this condition. However, while using these medications, avoid alcohol and don’t rely on the condoms and diaphragms to protect against pregnancy or any STD, as the vaginal creams or gels can cause weakening of latex condoms and diaphragms.
In some cases, recurrences of this condition even after the treatment are possible. However, maintaining proper hygiene, having safe sex, and a balanced diet comprising nutrients and vitamins like vitamin B, biotin, zinc, etc., can prevent it from developing and recurring.
Disclaimer: This HerHaleness article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.