Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis

In this short writeup, you will find the 4 most prominent symptoms of bacterial vaginosis and how you can get rid of them, and also some few tips to help you minimize your chances of ever getting the infection.

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is a type of vaginitis caused by the overgrowth of “bad” bacteria in the vagina. Like many other forms of vaginal infections, BV is usually caused by the lack of fresh air flowing into the vagina; this sets the stage for the growth of anaerobic bacteria like Gardnerella vaginalis or Mobiluncus which prevents the good bacteria from disinfecting the vagina.

Other common cause for BV may include:

  • Douching.
  • Multiple sex partners.
  • Poor hygiene.
  • Use of birth control drugs or insertion of intrauterine devices in the uterus.

If left untreated BV can cause a lot of harm especially to pregnant women. Below are some of the common symptoms which will start to manifest if you have BV. But before that, it’s important to note that over 85% of women with BV don’t exhibit symptoms at all. In that case it is said to be Asymptomatic. The reason for this is still unknown. Also there are isolated cases where symptoms can appear and disappear even if you have not used any form treatment.

Common Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis are:

1. Itching and Discomfort

Itching around the vagina which is sometimes accompanied by a feeling of dryness is the first symptom women will notice before later being diagnosed with BV. However, this only occurs in a small portion of the women with BV. The discomfort is not severe and is only felt as a slight burning sensation when passing urine. If the itching and discomfort is severe chances are that you are suffering from a different type of infection.

2. Foul Odor

This is the most obvious symptom of BV. Many women describe the foul odor as “fishy”. This odor is usually strong when a woman is in her periods or after sexual intercourse which can be quite embarrassing. The foul fishy smell comes from the bad bacteria which are present in the vaginal fluids.

3. Increased Discharge

If you notice an increase in vaginal discharge than you normally get it is advisable that you go and see a doctor for a check-up.

So what causes this increased discharge?

When the good bacteria are killed by douching or antibiotics, the bad bacteria multiply uncontrollably. This causes the glands inside the vagina to secrete extra fluids in an attempt to get rid of the overgrown bacteria. The production of more fluids is the cause of increased vaginal discharge in BV.

4. Abnormal Vaginal Discharge

A yellowish discharge is usually the main sign that you have BV. However, the discharge can sometimes be white or grayish in color.

Other minor symptoms of bacterial vaginosis may include;

  • Burning sensation in the vagina.
  • Redness or swelling in the vagina.
  • Pain may also occur during intercourse.

How do you get rid of These BV Symptoms?

There are three main antibiotics which are used to treat bacterial vaginosis symptoms namely:

a)     Metronidazole – This drug is usually taken orally (500mg daily for 6 days). However, this drug has been known to cause unpleasant side effects like stomach upset, abdominal pain or nausea.

b)    Tinidazole – This drug is taken orally as a single dose but it is recommended not to drink alcohol when taking this medication.

c)     Clindamycin – This drug is available as a cream which you apply on the vaginal area for seven days. However this treatment reduces the effectiveness of contraceptives devices like diaphragms.

Despite effective treatment for BV, most women never manage to get rid of BV permanently. Hence symptoms of BV may appear again a couple of weeks after treatment.

However you can minimize the risk of getting BV by adopting the following safe practices.

  • Practice safe sex. Preferably with one partner. By having unprotected sex with multiple partners, the acidity in the vagina will drop thus increasing the risk of you getting BV.
  • Do not douche. Washing the vagina with medicated soaps or other solutions to eliminate foul smell will only cause an imbalance in the vagina. You should first consult with a specialist before using such chemicals.
  • Ensure that you have enough sleep and relieve your stress by participating in other physical activities that don’t result in excessive physical exertion.
  • Avoid excessive consumption of birth control drugs or insertion of intrauterine devices in the uterus.
  • If you have prolonged or heavy periods you should go and see a doctor. This is because the blood from your periods, which is alkaline, affects the acidity of the vagina which can lead to an infection.
  • Don’t wear damp or tight cloths which will only facilitate the growth of anaerobic bacteria.

If any of the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis mentioned above start to manifest, then visit your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment. Natural treatments have also been found to treat BV more effectively than antibiotics.

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