Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal condition in women between the ages of 15-44. It’s the result of a bacteria imbalance in the vagina. BV shares many symptoms with other conditions, and it can be a challenge to know the difference. At the same time, if not taken seriously, patients end up delaying treatment or never seeking it. Not treating bacterial vaginosis can lead to other serious issues. Let’s take a look at the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis to look for.
Bacteria Gone Wild
The vagina is an integral part of sexual and reproductive health and is self-cleaning. Unlike the oven feature that uses extreme temperatures to reduce everything to ash, a vagina uses bacteria (flora) to do the job. Various Lactobacillus species must exist at specific levels to achieve an optimal PH level to prevent infections.
Bacterial vaginosis is one of the conditions that develop when this balance is off. Any woman can get BV, but it is more common in those who are sexually active, predominantly female same-sex partners.
It’s not entirely clear what causes the bacterial imbalance, but certain factors raise your risk. Introducing bacteria from another person during sexual activity or stripping your vagina of its flora through douching are two examples that alter that balance. Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include:
- Vaginal discharge that is white or gray with a watery or foamy consistency. It may also have a strong fish-like odor, especially after sex.
- Burning sensation during urination
- Irritation and itching on the outside of the vagina
Though the symptoms from the imbalance should be reason enough to seek help, the potential complications from untreated BV are eye-opening. Remember, the vaginal flora protects against infections by balancing the various bacteria at specific levels. Not treating BV means your body is more susceptible to developing:
- Sexually Transmitted Infections:
- Examples: HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and herpes simplex virus
- Having BV also increases the likelihood of passing BV and other STI’s to your partner
- Birth Complications:
- Premature delivery
- Low birth weight
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease:
- Infection of the uterus and fallopian tubes that can affect fertility
Restoring Balance and Hope for Chronic Sufferers
In most cases, you can prevent BV by avoiding the same behaviors that most commonly disturb flora balance. Using protection, reducing the number of sexual partners, and never douching are examples and should be standard practices. Prescription antifungals or antibiotics are effective medications used to treat BV.
It’s not uncommon for bacterial vaginosis to recur. In some cases, chronically. Potential new options for bacterial vaginosis are currently being explored, making this an exciting time for those affected by this condition. Women’s Healthcare Research is conducting clinical research studies for women with BV symptoms. To learn more, call us at (858) 505-8672, or visit our website today!