Sunday, August 19, 2007

Bacterial Vaginosis: What Every Woman Should Know

What is bacterial vaginosis (BV)?

Bacterial vaginosis, also called BV is the most common vaginal infection in women of childbearing age. It happens when the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina is disrupted and replaced by an overgrowth of certain bacteria.

What causes BV?

The cause of BV is not understood. Bacterial vaginosis is not caused by a particular organism but by a change in the balance of normal vaginal bacteria or a change in the PH balance.(Vaginal PH is usually between 3.8-4.5). Bacterial vaginosis is caused by an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the vagina due to the depletion of lactobacillus. The vagina normally contains a lot of good bacteria called lactobacilli and some other bacteria called anaerobes. Too many anaerobes can cause this imbalance. Bacterial vaginosis is most common among sexually active women although this is not always the case. You are more at risk of getting BV if you have multiple sex partners, have an intrauterine device as birth control or if you douche.

What are the signs of BV?

Women with BV may have an abnormal vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor. Some women report a strong fishy odor, especially after sexual intercourse. Irritation and burning when urinating is also common. Some women with BV have no symptoms at all.

How can I find out if I have BV?

There are several test that can be done to establish whether a woman has BV. These include a WET MOUNT TEST where a sample of vaginal discharge is mixed with a salt solution and placed on a microscope slide. The slide is then examined for CLUE CELLS. The presence of clue cells indicates that you have BV.

Another test commonly used is a WHIFF TEST. This involves dropping potassium hydroxide solutions to a sample of vaginal discharge. A fishy odor on a whiff test suggests BV. Also a rise in vaginal PH above 4.5 can often indicate BV. Normal vaginal PH is usually between 3.8-4.5.

* The presence of clue cells, increased PH and a positive whiff test are enough evidence to treat BV.

Is it safe to treat pregnant women who have BV?

All pregnant women with symptoms of BV or who have had a premature delivery or low birth weight baby in the past should be tested for BV and treated if they have it.

SHOULD BV BE TREATED?

YES. Although BV causes no complications in most cases, there can be serious problems if left untreated:

* There is an increased risk of miscarriage during pregnancy or premature delivery (before 37th week)

* There is a risk of developing Pelvic inflammatory disease or PID. This is an infection that can affect a woman's uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes, which carry eggs from the ovaries to the uterus.

* Higher risk of getting other STDs. Having BV can increase the chances of getting other STDs, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV.

* It can also cause discomfort during sex which can lead to high anxiety and low self esteem.

HOW CAN I PREVENT BV

BV is not well understood by scientists, and the best ways to prevent it are unknown. What is known is that BV is associated with having a new sex partner or having multiple sex partners.

HERE ARE SOME SOME IDEAS TO HELP YOU LOWER YOUR RISK:

* Don't douche. Douching removes some of the normal bacteria in the vagina that protects you from infection. This may increase your chances of getting BV. It may also increase the chances of BV coming back after treatment.Most douches also contain hydrogen low concentration (PH) which deviates from the normal level, making you prone to more Bacterial vaginosis.

* Have regular pelvic exams. Talk with your doctor about how often you need them. Many tests for STDs can be done during an exam.

* If you are pregnant and have symptoms of BV or had a premature delivery or low birth weight baby in the past, get tested for BV. Get tested as soon as you think you may be pregnant.

* Avoid using biological washing powder. Washing powder contains harsh chemicals which can irritate your vagina.

* Avoid vaginal deodorants as they can irritate the mucous membranes. They can make your vagina dry and itchy and can cause allergic reaction.

* Intra-uterine device or IUD for short can put you at increased risk of vaginal or uterine infections. If you are prone to repeated attacks of bacterial vaginosis and you have one fitted, try and talk to your Doctor about other methods of contraception.

* Finish your medicine. If you have BV, finish all the medicine that you are given to treat it. Even if you feel better.

How is BV treated?

Most common treatment for BV is with antibiotics, which are medicines prescribed by your doctor. Your doctor may give you either metronidazole or clindamycin. Antiobitics does have its place in treating bacterial vaginosis. However for many women they get repeated attacks and end up taking antibiotics over and over again. There is then the risk of developing antiboitic resistance which can be potentially dangerous.

The key to treating BV is to deal with the root cause of your infection and make simple changes to your lifestyle. Encourage healing with a healthy diet, regular exercise, no smoking, daily exposure to the sun, enough sleep and effective stress management. Have regular cervical smears as bacterial vaginosis can encourage abnormal cervix cells.

2 comments:

Isaac said...

Bacterial vaginal infection can cause a life threatening hurdle to a woman who is just so unfortunate to escape its captivity! Just like every other vaginal infection nerve to cause a disgrace and discomfort so does the bacterial vaginal infection. As a result any sane woman would like to keep a distance not to fall a victim of bacterial vaginal infection drama when it unfolds! More of this on BACTERIAL VAGINAL INFECTION.

Poly Muthumbi said...

I could also encourage any suffering woman out there in the name of BACTERIAL VAGINAL INFECTION. to monitor her personal hygiene standards so as to aggravate her problem. Avoiding poor diet and stressful situations could also reduce the chances of experiencing the traumatizing hurdles of bacterial vaginal infections.