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Bacterial Vaginosis

What is bacterial vaginosis?

Several different organisms can cause vaginal discharge and irritation (vaginitis). The most common organisms being :-

Bacterial vaginosis is a very common vaginal infection. It occurs when bacteria that normally exist in small numbers in the vagina multiply rapidly. Bacterial infection tends to occur in women who have regular sex. The infection does not get passed on to the man.

What causes bacterial vaginosis?

It is estimated, 1 in 3 women will probably get bacterial vaginosis at some time in their life. Once you have had one infection, you are more likely to have a repeat infection.

Bacterial vaginosis occurs when the acidity of the vagina changes, causes of this may include: –

  • Sex without a condom, when semen enters the vagina.
  • Using too many perfumed soaps or bubble baths.
  • Douching (washing out your vagina).
  • Using the coil / I.U.D.

The acidity (pH) of the vagina alters at different stages in the menstrual cycle and this may be another reason why the bacteria multiply. However, bacterial vaginosis can develop without any of these causes.

What are the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis?

The main symptom of bacterial vaginosis is usually, a thin white/greyish discharge, which usually has a fishy smell and is usually worse after sex or during a period. Other symptoms may include, irritation or soreness in and around the vagina and on rare occasions itching or swelling may occur. However, itching is more commonly associated with thrush.

How is bacterial vaginosis diagnosed?

If you go to your doctor he/she may examine your genital area and then a sample is taken from your vagina using a cotton wool swab (similar to a cotton bud). You may also be asked to give a urine sample. The acidity of the vagina may also be measured.

We have a simple test on this website which can be used to indicate whether an abnormal vaginal discharge is caused by bacterial, parasitic infections or yeast infection(thrush). For more information on this test or to buy click here.

How is bacterial vaginosis treated?

Bacterial vaginosis is treated with antibiotics. It is important to tell your doctor if you are pregnant, as a different type of treatment may need to be prescribed. Thrush treatments are not recommended to treat bacterial vaginosis.

What happens if bacterial vaginosis is left untreated?

Bacterial vaginosis is a mild condition and is easily treated. If you suffer with recurrent bacterial vaginosis, it would be wise to be checked for an infection if you are pregnant or thinking of trying for a baby, even if you have no symptoms. Untreated bacterial vaginosis, may cause problems during pregnancy or even cause a miscarriage.

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