All About Women's Health: Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis

Knowing all the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis is important for its prevention and treatment. When bacteria begins to infect the vagina and cause a disease, the resulting condition is called bacterial vaginosis or BV. What is BV? Before we proceed to knowing about the symptoms of BV, we must first know the basics about the disease. As the name implies, the condition is a bacterial infection of the vagina. It must not be confused with Candidiasis (yeast infection) or Trichomoniasis which are not bacterial in nature. Bacterial vaginosis can be caused by a myriad of factors; a woman's hygienic practices, overall health, and sexual practices are just some of the factors that may contribute to the condition. · Microbial Imbalance in the Vagina One of the primary causes of BV is the imbalance in the number of microorganisms in the vagina. A healthy, normal vagina contains the microorganisms Lactobacillus jensenii and Lactobacillus crispatus. These microorganisms produce hydrogen peroxide which in turn prevents the other microorganisms from multiplying and causing infections. When the number of the Lactobacillus bacteria decreases, the other microorganisms multiply and cause infections. Microorganisms involved in this infection include Bacteroides, Gardnella vaginalis, Mycoplasma, and Mobiluncus. Factors such as medications, hygienic practices, and one's overall health can cause the imbalance in the microbial flora. Prolonged antibiotic therapy and use of corticosteroids are seen to kill some of the microorganisms, including the Lactobacilli which control the number of other microorganisms within the vaginal environment. Hygienic practices such as douching and constant washing can also remove the "good bacteria", leaving the infectious ones behind which eventually cause the disease. Poor resistance to infections due to low immunity can also contribute to the microbial imbalance which then results to BV. · Sexual Activity Having multiple sexual partners or a partner with a sexually transmitted disease may also contribute to the emergence of bacterial vaginosis. However, many experts insist that there is still no clear association or evidence pointing to the relationship between bacterial vaginosis and sexual activity. In fact, sexually inactive women can still acquire BV. However, having multiple sexual partners and partners with an existing sexually transmitted infection increases the risk of having bacterial vaginosis. · Other Factors Aside from microbial imbalance and sexual practices, other factors such as pregnancy, menopause and iron deficiency can also contribute to the development of bacterial vaginosis. Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis Almost 85% of women with BV do not exhibit symptoms, but when the symptoms occur, the following maybe noted: · Odorous vaginal discharge · Thin, grayish to white vaginal discharge with fishy odor (usually noted after sexual intercourse) Usually there is no pain, erythema (redness) or itchiness associated with the infection. What is the Treatment? Bacterial vaginosis can be treated with Clindamycin or Metronidazole. Treatment with the said medications are effective, however there is a high possibility of recurrence. Usually the antimicrobial agent Metronidazole is given and must be taken twice (every twelve hours) for seven days. Continuous treatment usually results to the resolution of the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis.