Are frequent urination and urinary tract infection (UTI) related to bacterial vaginosis?

Two common bacterial infections in women are urinary tract infection (UTI) and bacterial vaginosis (BV). Both infections might occur at the same time, especially during pregrancy. UTI affects the urinary system, while BV affects the vagina which is a part of the reproductive system. Both infections if left untreated can cause serious birth and obstretrics complications. UTI may also cause damage in the kidneys.

UTI is an infection that involves the kidneys, bladder, ureter and urethra. Usually, the infection affects the lower uinary tract. The usual symptoms of a urinary tract infection are the following:

1. a burning sensation when urinating

2. frequent urge to urinate

3. pressure or pain in your lower abdomen or back

4. feeling shaky and or tired

5. strange smelling urine, usually dark, cloudy or bloody

6. the infection may have already reached the kidneys when fever is present

Bacterial vaginosis on the other hand is a mild bacterial infection of the vagina due to an imbalance in the natural flora of the vagina. It is the most common vaginal infection. There is no specific cause for BV but a few health and lifestyle risk factors have been shown to be responsible in contracting the bacterial infection.

Among these health and lifestyle risk factors are the following:

1. Multiple sex partners or having a new sex partner

2. Douching

3. Not using protection during sex (condoms)

Although it appears that infection does not seem to pass from man to woman, bacterial vaginosis may be passed from woman to woman during sexual activity.

There are a few research studies and minimal information between the relationship of bacterial vaginosis and urinary tract infection. In a study by A.H Sumati and N K Saritha, it noted a report that was published in the year 2000 citing a greater risk of women to have urinary tract infections when they are suffering from bacterial vaginosis than those who do not have BV.
The same study also mentioned that BV and UTI most likely occurs when there is a reduction in lactobacilli-producing lactate and hydrogen peroxide resulting with an increase in PH of the vagina flora. Other factors causing the phenomena is frequent sexual intercourse which and was both linked to bacterial vaginosis and urinary tract infection. The study suggested the necessity of carrying out test for urinary tract infections in women with bacterial vaginosis.

A urine test is usually done to check the presence of bacteria for urinary tract infection. For bacterial vaginosis the following tests are to be done:

1. Speculum examination. A speculum is inserted into the woman’s vagina to help spread the vaginal walls apart. This allows the health professional to collect tissue samples and see the cervix and walls of the vagina.

2. Bimanual pelvic examination. The health professional presses the woman’s abdomen while inserting two lubricated gloved fingers in her vagina. The examination allows the health professional to assess the size and position of the woman’s pelvic organs.

3. A vaginal discharge sample

Experts recommend to consult your GP or OB GYN when you experience symptoms of either a urinary tract infection or bacterial vaginosis.