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Bacterial vaginosis

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What is Bacterial Vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common type of vaginal infection seen among women of childbearing age. Vagina normally contains increased number of good bacteria such as lactobacilli. Imbalance of these bacteria in vagina causes infection.

Disruption or overgrowth of certain aerobic, anaerobic bacteria (which do not require oxygen) and other micororganisms such as Gardnerella vaginalis causes bacterial vaginosis. [1, 2]

Most common signs and symptom are foul, fishy smelling vaginal discharge. Pain during urination and itching is also seen.3


What are Bacterial Vaginosis causes?

Bacterial vaginosis is caused by the overgrowth of anaerobic bacteria such as

  • Gardnerella vaginalis
  • Bacteroides
  • Mobiluncus
  • Mycoplasma hominis

Bacterial vaginosis is mostly seen in women with multiple sexual partners or intercourse with new partner.

Bacterial vaginosis is also caused by the predisposing factors such as

  • Recent use of Antibiotics,
  • Decreased estrogen production,
  • Presence of intrauterine contraceptive devices.

However, the exact reason for bacterial overgrowth is not known in many cases. 1,2

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What are the signs and symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis mostly occur in women of reproductive age.

The condition may be asymptomatic in many instances.

A few may experience some symptoms such as

  • Fishy odor which increases during intercourse .
  • Increased vaginal discharge which is thin, creamy or white to grey color.
  • Itching and irritation in vagina.
  • Pain during urination. 1


How is Bacterial Vaginosis diagonised?

The diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis is mainly based on the physical examination of the vagina and the vaginal discharge.

It is evaluated for the characteristic fishy odor, a test commonly referred to as Whiff test.

The discharge is also examined under a microscope to detect the presence of abnormal microorganisms.

pH of the vaginal fluid may also be tested in some instances as normal acidity level is lost in the presence of abnormal bacteria. [1,2]

What is the treatment for Bacterial Vaginosis?

Drug of choice for the treatment of bacterial vaginosis are antibiotic medications taken orally or by inserting into vagina.

Antibiotics commonly prescribed are metrinidazole and clindamycin.

Bacterial vaginosis resolves in few days but tends to recur. Women with repeated episodes of infection are treated for a longer period. Generally, male partners need not be treated.1


How is Bacterial Vaginosis prevented?

Prevention is not completely understood. However, bacterial vaginosis is associated with having multiple sex partners or by new sex partners. Limiting the number of sex partners can prevent the disease. Abstaining from sexual contact during the presence of infection is also advised. Douching is also not recommended. 7


What are the complications of Bacterial Vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis can increase the woman’s susceptibility to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other sexually transmitted diseases such as

  • Herpes simplex virus
  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea

Bacterial vaginosis affect the womb and tubes that carry eggs from the ovaries to the uterus leading to pelvic inflammatory disease which may cause infertility.

Premature child delivery is also seen in pregnant women.1

Written by: healthplus24 team
Date last updated: October 02, 2012