Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is the most prevalent vaginal infection in women of reproductive age. It’s often associated with increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS and also pregnancy complications.
BV is most common in parts of Africa, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, a region with the highest prenatal HIV primacy and a high rate of adverse pregnancy consequences, which range between 20% -50% in women in reproductive age.
Bacterial Vaginosis: Causes
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is a bacterial infection that results from an overgrowth of one of the several vaginal bacteria.
Usually, the number of good bacteria (lactobacillus) outnumber the bad bacteria (anaerobes). The lactobacillus maintains a slightly acidic state in your vagina so that anaerobes don’t grow in number.
When the number of anaerobic bacteria increases, they upset the natural balance of microbes in your vagina, and you get Bacterial Vaginosis.
Bacterial Vaginosis: Risk Factors
Although we’ve said that BV is prevalent in women of reproductive age, any woman can develop BV regardless of her age.
Here are some activities that increase your risk of getting BV:
- Having multiple sex partners, especially female partners (You catch BV from both oral and anal sex)
- Using vaginal deodorant, scented soaps and perfumed bubble baths
- Washing undergarments with strong detergents
- Douching or using medicated solution to clean the vagina upsets the balance of the bacteria
- Having an IUD birth control device in your uterus–it has been linked to the bacterial infection, particularly if you have irregular bleeding.
You won’t get Bacterial Vaginosis from bedding, touching objects, toilet seats, or swimming.
Bacterial Vaginosis: Symptoms
Most of the Women with BV don’t even know they have it because they experience no symptoms. Sometimes the symptoms are mild and you won’t notice and they often come and go.
But here are some of the most common symptoms:
- Thin Vaginal discharge that has a strong fishy smell and gets stronger after sex
- Thin grey, white or greenish vaginal discharge
- Itching and burning when you pee
Bacterial Vaginosis: Diagnosis
A gynecologist might diagnose BV by going through your medical history and conducting a physical examination.
The doctor will look for a thin white or gray discharge and unpleasant smell. The doctor might also conduct a pelvic exam and do other simple tests like:
- Checking the acidity level or PH of your vagina
- Using swabs or plastic loop to collect a sample of your vaginal discharge or cells from your vaginal wall to look for the bacteria‘s sample
Bacterial Vaginosis: Treatment
Bacteria Vaginosis often clears without treatment, but women with BV symptoms should consult their doctors to avoid further complications.
BV is often cured with antibiotic medication- either cream or gel that you can put in your vagina or pills that you can swallow.
There are a variety of antibiotic medications, but the most popular ones are metronidazole, clindamycin, and tinidazole. The antibiotics kill germs in the vagina.
Another treatment option includes using a capsule of suppositories containing living lactic bacteria. These treatments are tailored to protect the Vagina flora, and they correct the natural balance.
However, there is no sufficient evidence to back up the effectiveness of this method.