Bacterial vaginosis (BV), although it may sound serious, is a mild infection of the vagina caused by bacteria. It is the most common vaginal infection in women of reproductive age with the percentage of women affected at any given time varying from between 5% and 70%. In this post, let’s take a closer look at what it is, how it’s diagnosed and treatment options for BV.
Normally, our vaginas are acidic and contain a lot of “good” bacteria and some “bad” bacteria. The acidic environment helps to maintain the level of good bacteria called lactobacillus and prevents bad bacteria from growing and overtaking them. Certain things can upset this pH balance, making the vagina less acidic and more hospitable to bad bacteria.
Common symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include:
- Increased vaginal discharge, usually white or gray in color
- Fishy odor
- Burning with urination (common)
- Itching (uncommon)
Occasionally, women may not experience any symptoms at all.
Having bacterial vaginosis doubles the risk of infection by a number of other sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS. It also increases the risk of early delivery among pregnant women.
Risk factors for developing bacterial vaginosis include:
- New or multiple sex partners
- Antibiotic use
- Using an intrauterine device.
Bacterial vaginosis is more common in women who are sexually active. But it can occur in women who are not sexually active as well. BV is not considered a sexually transmitted disease.
Bacterial Vaginosis Diagnosis and Treatment
The diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis is based on the symptoms, and may be verified by testing the vaginal discharge and finding a higher than normal vaginal pH, and large numbers of bacteria. BV is often confused with a vaginal yeast infection or infection with Trichomonas. Most cases are mild and may go away on its own in a few days. But it can sometimes lead to more serious problems if not treated so for that reason it’s important to ensure that you seek medical attention.
A doctor may prescribe treatment with an antibiotic, such as clindamycin or metronidazole. While effective, the condition often recurs following treatment. Probiotics, which help to increase the concentration of good bacteria and ingredients that help to make the vagina more acidic, may help prevent re-occurrence.
A PhaMix, we stock a range of products that may help to manage Bacterial Vaginosis including:
- Prevegyne Vitamin C Tablets. Works by decreasing the pH of the vaginal environment and enabling good bacteria to flourish.
- Relactagel. Contains lactic acid to restore and maintain the natural pH of your vagina, promoting the growth of lactobacilli.
- Gynalac. Double acting gel with lactic acid and sodium hyaluronate to help restore the vagina’s natural pH and soothe and moisturize irritated tissue.
- Vaginal probiotics, which help to reduce the recurrence of bacterial vaginosis by maintaining a natural state of equilibrium against unfriendly bacteria.
Top Tips for Preventing BV
- Avoid using deodorants or perfumed products in and around your vaginal area
- Avoid over-washing
- Don’t wash your underwear with strong detergents
- Change your tampons or menstrual pads frequently
- Wipe from front to back after going to the toilet to avoid infecting yourself
- Dry your vaginal area after washing, swimming and working out
- Change your underwear after swimming and working out.
It’s important to seek medical treatment if you experience symptoms that you think is Bacterial Vaginosis but aren’t sure – it could be something more serious.