How Do You Know if You Have Bacterial Vaginosis?
Disclaimer: Not medical or professional advice. Always seek the advice of your physician.
The vagina constitutes a separate ecosystem inhabited by a diverse range of microorganisms. The normal vaginal flora is dominated by lactobacilli, which produce lactic acid and maintain an acidic environment in the vagina. This acidity protects against various invaders that cause infection and inflammation.
Bacterial vaginosis is characterized by a sharp decline in the number of Lactobacillus species and excessive growth of anaerobic bacteria in the vagina. The condition rarely causes inflammation, but some women may experience specific symptoms such as excessive white or gray vaginal discharge. It is estimated that half of all women with Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) are asymptomatic. If the general condition of the body improves, the symptoms usually resolve or disappear completely. However, symptoms may appear again under the influence of various factors.
Bacterial vaginosis is not considered a sexually transmitted disease. Sexual partners do not need to be treated.
Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis
Patients with Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) are often asymptomatic or have minimal symptoms. A mild course of the disease is not a reason to ignore it and refuse to see a physician.
When to Seek Medical Care
- Excess vaginal discharge. Green or gray discharge can be a sign of bacterial vaginosis. The presence of abnormal discharge indicates an underlying health concern.
- You have a history of previous vaginal infections, but the color and consistency of your discharge seem different this time.
- Discharge has a foul, fishy odor, which cannot be removed with feminine hygiene products.
- Discomfort during intercourse.
- You have multiple sexual partners or a new partner. In some cases, the signs and symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection are similar to those of bacterial vaginosis.
- You try to treat a yeast infection with over-the-counter medicine, and your symptoms persist.
In fact, bacterial vaginosis is not a dangerous condition for most women, although it has been associated with some health problems like impaired reproductive health and the rapid development of pelvic inflammatory diseases.
Women who are pregnant or considering pregnancy should pay particular attention to this condition.
Complications of Bacterial Vaginosis
- It can increase your chance of getting a sexually transmitted disease.
- It is a strong risk factor for miscarriage and premature delivery.
- Inflammation of the vaginal mucosa.
- Decreased quality of sexual life.
Causes of Bacterial Vaginosis
Researchers are still working to determine the exact cause of changes in the balance of bacteria in the vagina. However, a few influencing factors have been identified.
- Sexually transmitted infections (they reduce the number of lactobacilli).Frequent sexual intercourse, change of sexual partner.
- The use of a contraceptive copper intrauterine device with an antibacterial effect.
- Hormonal changes experienced during pregnancy, menopause, and after an abortion.
- Long-term use of antibiotics.
- Side effects of radiation therapy.
- Regular use of latex condoms.
- Unhealthy habits.
- Frequent practice of washing or douching the vagina.
- Repeated use of intravaginal medications.
- Improper use of feminine hygiene products, such as pads, tampons, menstrual cups, and sponges.
How to Prevent Bacterial Vaginosis?
Taking good care of yourself is paramount to living a healthy life. Try to avoid stress, overwork, and bad health habits. Eating a balanced diet and getting at least 8 hours of sleep have been shown to reduce the risk of the condition.
Beyond that, physicians recommend taking some steps that may help lower your risk of getting bacterial vaginosis.
- Use feminine hygiene products that do not cause irritation
- Change your pads more frequently and minimize the use of tampons during your period.
- Do not use antiseptics to wash the genital area.
- Avoid frequent cleaning vagina and vulva.
- Practice safe sex to prevent sexually transmitted infections.
If you feel you have symptoms of bacterial vaginosis, or you want to find out whether you have an infection, contact Lake Conway Clinic for assistance.