Did you know that the vagina contains both good and bad bacteria? If one is suffering from vaginal bacteria vaginosis, it means there are more bad bacteria, which causes an imbalance in the vaginal environment.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV), also referred to as vaginal bacteriosis, is a vaginal inflammation for women of childbearing age. A woman suffers from the condition after engaging in sex with a new partner. It is unlikely for someone to get it if they've never had sex. However, it is a common condition that any woman can have, irrespective of whether they've had sex or not.
The condition also enhances the chances of getting sexually transmitted infections (STI), although it is not considered an STI. Your doctor can prescribe various medications for bacterial vaginosis treatment. It may not be necessary to treat the male partner of an infected woman, but it can spread among sexual partners.
Bacterial Vaginosis Definition?
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) refers to a vaginal inflammation due to an imbalance of the vaginal bacteria. The condition doesn't lead to any other type of health problem or other infections. However, it can cause other health complications, especially if you are trying to get pregnant or already pregnant.
Some of the pregnancy complications that one can experience due to bacterial vaginosis include:
- Loss of pregnancy
- Early delivery (preterm)
- The amniotic sac can break open too early
- Tubal factor infertility. The tubal factor infertility is a result of fallopian tubes damage
- Chorioamnionitis, which is an inflammation of the membranes that surround your fetus. The membranes are called the amnion and the chorion
- Postpartum endometritis, which refers to an inflammation or irritation of the uterus lining after delivery
Chorioamnionitis increases the chances of having a preterm delivery. If the child survives, they have increased chances of suffering from cerebral palsy. Additionally, there are minimal chances of In-Vitro fertilization (IVF) if a woman has bacterial vaginosis.
The condition also increases the likelihood of getting the pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which refers to an infection of the genital tract with various severe consequences, which can include infertility.
Other complications include STIs such as gonorrhea, herpes simplex virus, and chlamydia. BV also increases your susceptibility to the HIV virus.
Bacterial Vaginosis Symptoms
Bacterial vaginosis can come without any symptoms. If they are present, they include:
- Thin colored vaginal discharge
- A fishy vaginal odor that is more noticeable after sex
- A burning feeling as the woman pees
- Vaginal itching
Bacterial vaginosis is not similar to a yeast infection. A yeast infection is characterized by a thick white discharge that doesn't smell.
When should you see a doctor about bacterial vaginosis?
As mentioned earlier, some pregnant women may not exhibit any symptoms of bacterial vaginosis. Additionally, the symptoms may not be similar to that of any other bacterial infection. As such, it will be best to see your doctor if you:
- If you notice a new abnormal vaginal discharge that comes with a fever or vaginal odor
- If you are sexually active and have sexual intercourse with multiple sex partners or you have a new sex partner. You can also be checked for a sexually transmitted disease
- You have used over-the-counter medication for a yeast infection treatment, but it doesn't alleviate the symptoms
To make a bacterial vaginosis diagnosis on a woman, the doctor can use various methods, including:
- Asking questions regarding your medical history. The doctor may enquire if you have any previous vaginal infections or other sexually transmitted infections
- The doctor may also do a pelvic exam. During the exam, the doctor will check your vagina for any signs of infection. They may insert two fingers while pressing your abdomen area for signs that indicate any disease
Bacterial Vaginosis Causes
The vagina contains several natural bacteria. In normal circumstances, the good bacteria, lactobacilli, are more than the bad bacteria known as the anaerobes. Lactobacilli produce lactic acid, which makes your vagina slightly acidic. The acidity prevents other bacteria from thriving in the vagina. However, if there is an influx of anaerobic bacteria, they upset the natural balance in the vagina, resulting in bacterial vaginosis. Low levels of lactobacilli make the vagina less acidic, which allows other bacteria to grow.
Any woman can get BV. However, some risk factors make one more susceptible to bacterial vaginosis. Such factors include:
- Washing your underwear using strong detergents
- Using vaginal deodorants, scented soaps, and perfumed bubble baths
- A new sex partner
- Having several sexual partners
- Using water, douching, or using medicated solutions to clean your vagina
- Using antiseptic liquids while taking a birth
You may not catch BV from swimming pools, toilet seats, beddings, or touching objects.
Treatment for Bacterial Vaginosis
How do you treat bacterial vaginosis?
You don't need to treat BV if there are no symptoms. Sometimes it will clear up without using any treatment. It is possible for bacterial vaginosis to appear and disappear without reason. However, if the woman experiences any symptoms, they should seek treatment to prevent complications.
If you notice you have any abnormal vaginal discharge, ensure you see a doctor immediately. The doctor will help you determine whether it is a common vaginal infection or any other type of infection. Treating bacterial vaginosis is also vital in preventing other complications, especially when the woman is pregnant.
Doctors can also recommend the treatment for women undergoing termination or hysterectomy. The treatment should happen before the procedure. Male partners usually don't require BV treatment, but they can spread bacterial vaginosis among several female sex partners.
Your doctor can prescribe antibiotic medication that is 90% successful, but bacterial vaginosis will come back within some weeks. Oral metronidazole is one of the common antibiotics for treating bacterial vaginosis. It is available in various forms, including:
- Gel: applied daily on the vagina for five days
- Tablets: taken orally and are the most preferred if the woman is pregnant or breastfeeding. It is also seen as the most effective type of bacterial vaginosis treatment
- A single tablet: it is a one-time dose taken orally. It may not be as effective, and BV is likely to come back after a short while
Tinidazole is also another medication used to treat BV if it recurs or metronidazole doesn't work. You take a single dose by mouth, and you must avoid alcohol when taking the medication. You can also use clindamycin to treat BV if the infection recurs or metronidazole is not effective.
If symptoms persist after taking the medication, you'll require to do more tests. The same applies if the patient is pregnant or the symptoms go but come back after a while. If the symptoms resolve after taking the medication, there'll be no need for the patient to undergo further tests.
A certain percentage of women will have the BV symptoms recur after 3 months of taking the medication. For other women, the symptoms will recur after six months. If the previous treatment was vaginal, the doctor can recommend mouth treatment and vice versa. The doctor can also recommend a metronidazole gel to use for a maximum of six weeks if the patient experiences three episodes in 12 months.
Best Home Remedies for BV
Bacterial vaginosis home treatment is possible using the following tricks:
An ounce of hydrogen peroxide used as vaginal irrigation daily for one week will help deal with bacterial vaginosis. The option has fewer side effects, and it comes at a lower cost than the other medications.
Garlic is famous for its strong antibacterial properties, and it is an effective home remedy for bacterial vaginosis.
Some types of underwear, such as spandex, are not as breathable as cotton underwear. Underwear with non breathable materials traps moisture, making it possible for bacteria to breed. If there is a bacteria infection, the breeding ground for bacteria will worsen the situation.
You can also use boric acid capsules to treat bacterial vaginosis. The capsules are safe for use in the vagina and are as effective as some medical approaches to treatment. Boric acid is not safe for use if you are pregnant and it is not edible. It is toxic and should be kept away from animals and children.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil features strong antibacterial properties that can help in treating bacterial vaginosis.
Essential oils such as tea tree oil need to be diluted using a carrier oil such as sweet almond or coconut oil. Ensure you choose an oil that you are not allergic to. Ensure you don't use the oil without mixing it with your choice of carrier oil, as it has a burning effect on tender skin.
Additionally, before using the diluted oil on your tender vaginal tissue, it will be best to try it first on small amounts on your skin. If you don't experience any reactions between 24 to 48 hours, the oil is safe for use in the vagina.
There are various ways that you can use diluted tea tree oil in treating bacterial vaginosis. For instance, you can mix the tea tree oil with some coconut oil and then soak a tampon. Put the tampon in your vagina and allow it to remain there for an hour before removing it. You can remove it sooner if you experience any irritation. Repeat the process a few times daily. Ensure you don't sleep with a tampon with tea tree oil in your vagina.
Yogurt is a natural probiotic with tons of healthy bacteria in it. Taking yoghurt helps to reintroduce healthy bacteria into your body. The reintroduction creates a balanced vaginal environment that will enable you to fight bad bacteria.
Besides yoghurt, you can also go for probiotic supplements available in liquid and pill form to help treat bacterial vaginosis.
Is Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) Common?
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common issue for ladies between 14 to 44 years. Black women are more likely to get BV than white women.
Anyone with a vagina can get BV even without engaging in sex. However, it is most common in sexually active people. You have higher chances of getting BV if:
- You refuse to use condoms
- You have an IUD
- Are pregnant
- Use douches
- Have multiple sex partners
What Is the Most Effective Treatment for BV?
There are three best treatments for BV that include:
- Metronidazole (Flagyl) 500mg pills. Two times a day for seven days
- Metronidazole vaginal gel applied once a day for 5 days
- Clindamycin cream applied once daily for five days
Is Bacterial Vaginosis an STD?
BV is not considered an STD. However, there are chances of increasing with an increase in the number of sexual partners one has.
What Is the Difference Between BV and Yeast Infection?
Both BV and yeast infection cause changes in vaginal discharge. A yeast infection comes with a thick odorless vaginal discharge while BV causes a discharge with a fishy odor. The fishy odor becomes more after sexual intercourse.
BV is caused by an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the vagina that causes an imbalance in the vaginal environment. On the other hand, yeast infection is a result of an overgrowth of Candida fungus.
Bacterial vaginosis refers to a vaginal inflammation resulting from an influx of bad bacteria in the vagina. The bad bacteria upset the natural environment in the vagina. It affects most women in their productive age, especially the ones who are sexually active. It is characterized by a discharge, itchy feeling, and other symptoms. You can deal with the issue using some home remedies such as using yoghurt, hydrogen peroxide, etc. Alternatively, you can go for medical treatment such as using metronidazole, tinidazole, or clindamycin.