Bacterial Vaginosis

Thought to be the most common vaginal infection in women of childbearing age, bacterial vaginosis, or BV, is thought to affect as much as 16% of all pregnant women in the United States.

What is It?
Like a yeast infection, BV is a mild vaginal infection caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in your vagina. However, the offending bacteria in BV are different from the troublemaking bacteria in yeast infections. While Candida albicans causes yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis is the result of too much anaerobes bacteria growing in your vagina. Unfortunately, though, experts are at a loss as to just what triggers this bacteria overgrowth.

Bacterial Vaginosis Symptom
Signs of BV include:

  • White or gray colored vaginal discharge that may be thin
  • Fishy odor, especially after sex
  • Less frequently, vaginal itching and burning sensation during urination
However, many women often don’t experience any symptoms.

Diagnosis and Treatment
Similar to yeast infections, BV can be diagnosed by your doctor examining a sample of your vaginal discharge under a microscope. Bacterial vaginosis can also be diagnosed by checking your vaginal acid levels.

Once you have been diagnosed with BV, it is important to receive prompt treatment. Although the infection itself is not necessarily anything to worry about, left untreated it can lead to much more serious problems, including pelvic inflammatory disease. In pregnant women, untreated bacterial vaginosis can cause you to go into preterm labor or your baby to have a low birth weight.

Bacterial vaginosis is often treated through antibiotics, usually metronidazole or clindamycin, both of which can be used during pregnancy. Alternatively, some women prefer to use a vaginal cream or gel, although these may not work as well as oral medication.

It is important to note that metronidazole and alcohol do not mix. Consuming alcohol, even the little tiny bit that is in cough medicine, will lead to severe nausea and vomiting when you are taking metronidazole.

Natural cures for bacterial vaginosis include following a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Yogurt may also help treat or ease the symptoms of BV. However, it is strongly recommended that pregnant women go to their health care provider for recommended treatment methods because of the possible pregnancy complications that can arise from bacterial vaginosis.

Recurrent bacterial vaginosis is also possible, therefore you should always make an appointment with your health care provider when your suspect BV to make sure you are following the correct course of treatment.

Preventing BV
Use these tips to prevent bacterial vaginosis:

  • Always wipe from front to back to avoid spreading bacteria from the rectal area to the vagina
  • Keep your vulva dry and clean
  • Avoid using douches, harsh soaps or heavily fragranced soaps
  • Wear cotton underwear and pantyhose with a cotton crotch

Have a question about bacterial vaginosis? Visit our discomfort forum to get the answers you need.

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