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Bacterial Vaginosis

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Bacterial Vaginosis

What is bacterial vaginosis?
How does someone get bacterial vaginosis?
What are the risk factors for bacterial vaginosis?
How can you protect yourself from getting bacterial vaginosis?
What are some symptoms of bacterial vaginosis?
Can infection with bacterial vaginosis lead to other health problems?
What is the impact of bacterial vaginosis on pregnancy?
How is bacterial vaginosis diagnosed?
Is there a treatment or cure for bacterial vaginosis?

What is bacterial vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) occurs when the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina changes and an overgrowth of some bacteria normally found in the vagina occurs. Studies indicate that a woman with bacterial vaginosis has an increased chance of having a variety of other reproductive tract problems. Therefore, diagnosis and treatment are important.

How does someone get bacterial vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis occurs when some types of bacteria that are normally found in the vagina begin to grow in large numbers. It is unclear why this occurs, although some risk factors have been identified. Bacterial vaginosis is not transmitted during sex.

What are the risk factors for bacterial vaginosis?

Douching, the use of feminine hygiene products (such as vaginal sprays and wipes), and bubble baths may lead to BV. Although not an STI, sex without a condom can cause BV or make it worse because of the effect of semen on bacteria in the vagina. It appears that the presence of an STI increases the risk of BV; up to 64% of women with STIs will also have bacterial vaginosis, compared to 10-20% of all women.

How can you protect yourself from getting bacterial vaginosis?

To reduce your chances of getting bacterial vaginosis:

  • Avoid douching and the use of other feminine-hygiene products
  • Use condoms during sex
  • Clean reusable contraceptives (such as diaphragms, cervical caps, and spermicide applicators) well after each use

What are some symptoms of bacterial vaginosis?

Some women have no symptoms. When symptoms occur, they may include:

  • Unusual vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor
  • Vaginal itching or irritation

Can infection with bacterial vaginosis lead to other health problems?

Bacterial vaginosis may increase a woman's chance of having other reproductive tract problems, including:

What is the impact of bacterial vaginosis on pregnancy?

Bacterial vaginosis has been associated with early labor and delivery in pregnant women and low birth weight in newborns.

How is bacterial vaginosis diagnosed?

Most commonly, bacterial vaginosis is diagnosed by examination of vaginal discharge to evaluate the acidity, odor, and microscopic characteristics of the discharge.

Is there a treatment or cure for bacterial vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis can be easily treated and cured with antibiotics--usually a drug called metronidazole (Flagyl). This treatment can cause side effects such as mild nausea, vomiting, and metallic taste in the mouth. Nonetheless, in order for the treatment to work it is important to take the medication as prescribed. It can also cause a bad reaction when mixed with alcohol; avoid drinking until 24 hours after you finish taking the medicine. It should not be used during early pregnancy.

Male partners of women with BV are not routinely treated because it does not change whether or not women get better or get the infection again.



[ || Pregnancy || Informed Choice || Infections and Diseases || Quality of Care || Emerging Issues ]
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