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Bacterial Vaginosis - Causes, Symptoms & Treatment
Written By : Dr. James Pendergraft 
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What is bacterial vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most general cause of vaginal infection known as vaginitis. Normally it is not considered to be a 'sexually transmitted infection'. It is the imbalance of naturally happening bacterial flora that causes bacterial vaginosis.

What are the symptoms and signs?

The most common sign is an unusual vaginal discharge especially after having sex which has an unpleasant fishy smell. Some women don't experience any symptoms, while many other experience intense swelling, itching and irritation (often misdiagnosed by patient or even health practitioner as yeast infection), also stomach pains, which feels like severe cramps. By contrast, a normal discharge should be odourless and vary in amount and consistency with the menstrual cycle.

The causes?

Normally, a healthy vagina should contain many microorganisms; Lactobacillus crispate and Lactobacillus jensenii are the common ones. The microorganisms involved in bacterial vaginosis are very diverse. Reduction of lactobacillus and any other changes in normal bacterial flora, due to use of antibiotics or pH imbalance or other reasons, lets the more resistant bacteria to multiply and gain foothold.

There are a variety of causes for bacterial vaginosis. Bacterial vaginosis is more common in sexually active women aging 15 to 44 especially after changing in to new partner.

Although bacterial vaginosis might be related to sexual activity, there is no strong evidence of sexual transmission. But virgins can get infected with bacterial vaginosis.

Women with sexually transmitted infections and pregnant women are more at risk. Sometimes Bacterial vaginosis affects women after menopause. A study has shown subclinical anemia the iron shortage is a strong cause of bacterial vaginosis in pregnant women. Also it's proven there is a link between bacterial vaginosis and psychosocial stress.

There is a theory mentioning that sexual exchange of vaginal secretions in sex between women is a possible mechanism for acquisition.

In young girls, strep or bacteria from the anus due to none hygiene wiping after bowel movement may cause bacterial vaginosis.

What are the treatments?

Since the disease is caused by bacteria therefore treatment for bacterial vaginosis is using antibiotics. Not many antibiotics are used routinely. Metronidazole (Flagyl) is a very affective antibiotic which is taken either by oral (pill) or by vaginal metronidazole gel (Metrogel). The vaginal clindamycin cream (Cleocin) is also available.

The oral metronidazole is believed to be the best and most effective treatment but may cause minor and unpleasant side effects. Typically the gel does not cause side effect, but yeast vaginitis can happen as a side effect of the medication.

If you are looking for an antibiotic with fewer side effects then tinidazole is the one, an antibiotic that appears to have lesser side effects compared with metronidazole and is effective in bacterial vaginosis treatment.

There is the possibility of bacterial vaginosis Recurrence even after a successful treatment. Recurrence happens in more than half of the treated patients within 12 months. The reason is unclear. Due to appearance of recurrent symptoms, second course of antibiotic treatment is recommended.

To Your Health!

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