Women Health and Fertility Review

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28 September 2011

Any woman can get Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)


Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal infection among women of reproductive age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  
BV is also common during pregnancy. While bacterial vaginosis is not actually an Sexually Transmitted Disease, it can be spread through sexual intercourse. It is important for all women to have a good understanding of the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis.

Common Bacterial Vaginosis Symptoms

If one or more of these symptoms is present, there is a good chance that it is bacterial vaginosis. That being said, there are certain STDs which have similar symptoms.
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge is one of the most common symptoms of this vaginal infection. Generally, discharge will be either gray or white in color. Some women may experience only a minimal amount of thin vaginal discharge, while others may experience it very thick and heavy.
  • A foul odor is one of the most common symptoms of bacterial vaginosis. Odor tends to be the most noticeable after sexual intercourse. Many women find that the foul odor caused by BV has a very strong fish scent.
  • Burning during urination is common for women who have bacterial vaginosis. Women with this vaginal infection also commonly experience on the outside of the vagina. These are the two bacterial vaginosis symptoms which are very easy to confuse with a yeast infection.

Diagnosing and Treating Bacterial Vaginosis

When a woman experience bacterial vaginosis symptoms, it is important to visit a gynecologist for an examination. In order for BV to be diagnosed, the gynecologist must take a sample of vaginal fluid that will go through laboratory testing. The gynecologist will also visually examine the vagina for signs of bacterial vaginosis.

Once bacterial vaginosis has been diagnosed, it is important to treat it. This is especially true for women who have BV during pregnancy, as it can increase the risk of pre-term delivery and low birth weights. Bacterial vaginosis can also increase the risk of STDs, such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HPV. The vaginal infection is commonly treated through antibiotics. It is important to keep in mind that BV commonly reoccurs after it has been treated.
Most women will experience this vaginal infection at some point during their lifetime, even if bacterial vaginosis symptoms are not present. Being aware of symptoms which could indicate BV can help ensure a successful diagnosis.

What is the treatment for bacterial vaginosis?
Although BV will sometimes clear up without treatment, all women with symptoms of BV should be treated to avoid complications.
Treatment is especially important for pregnant women. All pregnant women who have ever had a premature delivery or low birth weight baby should be considered for a BV examination, regardless of symptoms, and should be treated if they have BV. All pregnant women who have symptoms of BV should be checked and treated.

BV is treatable with antibiotics prescribed by a health care provider together with Lactic acid gel to balance the vaginal flora to boost the growth of the good bacteria. 

Two different antibiotics are recommended as treatment for BV: metronidazole or clindamycin. Either can be used with non-pregnant or pregnant women, but the recommended dosages differ.
BV can recur after treatment unless the vaginal flora is balance.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Bacterial Vaginosis" (accessed April 29, 2010).