Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Genito-Urinary Medicine

Bacterial Vaginosis

Introduction to Bacterial Vaginosis

In bacterial vaginosis, the balance of bacteria is disrupted and causes unusual vaginal discharge.

Written by Doctify Team 27/04/2020

What is Bacterial Vaginosis?

The vagina normally contains a mixture of bacteria as a form of protection. In bacterial vaginosis, the balance of bacteria is disrupted and causes unusual vaginal discharge. There isn’t usually any soreness or itching associated with bacterial vaginosis and half of women have no symptoms. It is not a sexually transmitted infection, but is more common in those who are sexually active. It is advised to avoid soaps and deodorants on your vagina which can upset the bacterial balance in the vagina. Bacterial vaginosis isn’t a serious condition but there is a concern if you are pregnant and have had pregnancy related complications previously. This is because, there is some evidence to suggest that bacterial vaginosis can increase the risk of pregnancy related complications. These include premature birth, miscarriage, amniotic sac breaking early, infection of the placenta and amniotic membrane, postpartum endometritis (inflammation).

What causes Bacterial Vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis is due to a change in the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina but the cause of this is unknown. In women with bacterial vaginosis, there is a decrease in a particular bacteria species temporarily called lactobacilli. This bacteria usually makes the vagina more acidic and so reduces the change of other bacteria growing there. Women who use an intrauterine device as a form of contraception are more likely to have the condition but it is not understood why this is the case.

Bacterial Vaginosis

What are the symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis?

Symptoms are only found in about half of women with bacterial vaginosis. The symptoms affect the discharge and can cause it to have a strong fishy smell, become white or grey or thin and watery.

How is Bacterial Vaginosis treated?

Antibiotic treatment is the common form of treatment. Metronizadole is often given as either an ingested tablet or gel applied to the vagina. Metronizadole can be given if you’re pregnant but if you’re breast feeding the gel is given as the antibiotic might affect breast milk. Clindamycin is an antibiotic given as a cream to people who have been allergic to metronidazole previously. It is not advised to drink alcohol whilst on metronizadole because it can increase the severity of side effects such as nausea, vomiting and a metallic taste in your mouth. If you have an IUD, it might be removed and you’ll be offered an alternative form of contraception instead.

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