Bacterial vaginosis is a type of vaginal infection caused by bacteria. It is due to the overgrowth of opportunistic bacteria in the vaginal microenvironment. The prevalence of bacterial vaginosis in India is around 24%. A high prevalence of bacterial vaginosis is associated with age, contraceptives, parity, and socioeconomic status.
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What is Bacterial Vaginosis?
Bacterial vaginosis is not a sexually transmitted disease. The condition most commonly occurs in women between the age of 15 to 44 years. It is relatively a common condition, and around 1 in 3 women develop this condition at least once in their lifetime
What Causes Bacterial Vaginosis?
What Are the Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis?
- ● Pain and burning sensation while urination.
- ● Fishy and foul vaginal odor.
- ● Persistent vaginal itching.
- ● A watery discharge that is white or grey in color.
How is Bacterial Vaginosis Diagnosed?
- ● Medical history: The doctor may ask you about your medical history. You should inform the doctor about any previous development of vaginal infection or any sexually transmitted disease.
- ● Analyzing the symptoms: The doctor may determine various possible conditions based on your symptoms. Inform the doctor about all the symptoms you are experiencing in detail.
- ● Pelvic examination: The doctor may also perform a pelvic examination. The doctor may investigate the vagina for any sign of infection. The doctor may also insert the fingers into the vagina to determine the presence of any disease.
- ● Microscopic analysis: The anaerobic bacteria are the cause of bacterial vaginosis. The doctor advises undergoing the microscopic analysis of vaginal discharge to determine the presence of anaerobic bacteria.
- ● Vaginal pH analysis: Alteration in pH increases the risk of bacterial vaginosis. The doctor may also recommend evaluating the pH of the vagina. A pH above 4.5 may indicate the presence of bacterial vaginosis.
How is Bacterial Vaginosis Treated?
The medications that your doctor may prescribe for bacterial vaginosis include metronidazole, clindamycin, and tinidazole. Metronidazole is the most common medicine for this condition. When metronidazole fails to provide relief, clindamycin is an alternative for bacterial vaginosis.
You should take your medications strictly as prescribed by your doctor. Never stop taking the medications without consulting your doctor. Stopping them on your own may result in the recurrence of bacterial vaginosis.
Medications are effective in managing bacterial vaginosis. However, current treatment does not prevent its recurrence. After a complete recovery, almost 69% to 80% of patients have a recurrence within 12 months. In case you experience the symptoms again, contact your doctor. If your symptoms recur soon after the completion of treatment, your doctor may initiate metronidazole extended therapy. Some women have chronic bacterial vaginosis that requires long-term treatment.
What Are the Risks Associated with Bacterial Vaginosis?
- ● Increased risk of various infections such as HIV, herpes, chlamydia, and HV,
- ● Premature deliveries with low birth weight,
- ● High risk of infection after gynecological surgeries such as hysterectomy or pregnancy termination procedure,
- ● Increased risk of infertility due to pelvic inflammatory disease,
- ● Loss of pregnancy or postpartum endometritis.
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What are the Risk Factors for Bacterial Vaginosis?
- ● Frequently cleaning the vagina with a cleansing agent or normal water (douching)
- ● Multiple sex partners
- ● Performing sex with a female partner
- ● Oral sex or anal sex
- ● Use of intrauterine contraceptive devices
- ● Lack of lactobacilli
How to Prevent Bacterial Vaginosis?
- ● Restraining the number of sex partners
- ● Avoid unhygienic touch to the vagina
- ● Avoid douching. If required, use mild soaps that do not alter vaginal pH
- ● Minimize your risk of getting sexually transmitted disease by using condoms