Bacterial vaginosis is a type of vaginal inflammation caused by the overgrowth of bacteria naturally found in vaginal flora thus upsetting the delicate natural balance. the normal flora of the vagina is called Lactobacilli (good bacteria). When they are destroyed by too many bad bacteria, bacterial vaginosis can happen. Women in the reproductive age who are sexually active are most likely to be affected by bacterial vaginosis. It is the most common vaginal condition in 15-44 years. Though none of the age groups is fully exempted. This World Sexual Health Day 2020 Onlymyhealth spoke to Dr. Anjana Singh, Director, Gynecologist and Obstetrics, Fortis Hospital Noida to know more about bacterial vaginosis, its causes, symptoms and methods of prevention.
What Causes Bacterial Vaginosis?
Unprotected intercourse and multiple sex partners, oral sex, frequent douching, use of soap or perfumed products to clean the vaginal area, IUCD, increase the likelihood of bacterial vaginosis. You may naturally also lack these bacteria, predisposing you to bacterial vaginosis. Smoking is also a factor that may cause bacterial vaginosis. Also, prolonged and heavy periods can be a cause of this condition. It is said that good vaginal bacteria also boost infant health.
What are the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis?
- Increased thin vaginal discharge which may be green or greyish white in colour
- Foul-smelling vaginal odour
- Increased itching around and inside vagina
- Burning sensation during and after urination
NOTE: 50-75% of women with bacterial vaginosis conditions may show no symptoms
What may happen if you don't get treated?
Here are certain complications that you may face if you don't get treated for BV:
- You can be vulnerable to other STDs like chlamydia and gonorrhea which in turn may cause pelvic inflammatory disease(PID). This can be followed by excessive pelvic pain and can also block your tube causing infertility.
- If you are pregnant then you can have preterm delivery and small babies.
- Since the protective function of the vagina is compromised due to a decrease in good bacteria during BV, the likelihood of getting HIV increases if you get intimate with an HIV-positive person.
- You may get a urinary tract infection(UTI) if you have BV.
- Post-surgical infections increase after an abortion or hysterectomy.
- Repeated IVF failures
Possible Treatment Options
According to Dr. Singh, Lactic acid washes can be used to control the condition. Also, Clindamycin and metronidazole drugs can be prescribed by the doctor.
You Can Also Try These Home Remedies
- Yogurt: Apply a thin layer of plain live yogurt to the outside of the vagina daily. For internal use, apply some yogurt on a tampon and use it.
- Use vaginal acetic and lactic acid gels and washes as the aim is to keep the vaginal pH below 4.5 to encourage the growth of lactobacilli. Avoid using chemically-treated vaginal washes.
- Probiotics or Lactobacilli tablets: These are available as oral tablets that are to be taken for one month. One tablet each every day.
- Remove IUCD if bacterial vaginosis is recurrent and not responding to treatment.
Your partner also needs to be treated if the infection is recurrent.
How to prevent bacterial vaginosis?
Vagina has mostly good bacteria and few harmful bacteria. Bacterial vaginosis is caused when the number of harmful bacteria increases. Lactobacilli produce lactic acid thus making the vagina to be slightly acidic in pH thus, preventing the growth of harmful bacteria. Anything that increases the pH like perfused products or soap around the vagina should be avoided.
- Avoid multiple sexual partners and always use barrier methods like contraception during intercourse. Use unscented pads or tampons and latex condoms.
- Avoid frequent douching because that can disrupt the vaginal balance and increases the chances of infection. Cleaning the vagina once during bathing with normal water is enough.
- Do not use soap to clean your private parts.
- Avoid prolonged wear of nylon tights and bubble baths.
If you are sexually active, you must take all the necessary precautions to secure your intimate health. Intimate hygiene is a must to ward off risks of many infections and serious sexual health diseases.
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