Bacterial Vaginosis Or Trichomoniasis? Is There A Link Or Connection?

By | July 5, 2017

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) and trichomoniasis are diseases considered to be related because they both often manifest the same symptoms, target the genital area of women of reproductive age, and further expose their hosts to other diseases transmitted by sex, including human immunodeficiency disease (HIV). A comparison of their properties is presented to determine if any link exists between the two maladies.

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a disease caused by an abnormal growth in a woman’s vaginal flora. Though found to be more common among sexually active women, the infection is not considered a sexually transmitted disease (STD).

A common manifestation of the illness is the presence of a fishy odor coming from the infected patient’s vaginal discharge. Factors that can increase the risk of a woman to acquire BV include frequent sexual activity, the use of intrauterine devices (IUDs) and douching. Treatment usually involves the taking of antibiotic medications and stopping the habit of douching. Having an untreated vaginal infection makes one exposed to an increased risk of contracting diseases via sexual contact and encountering problems during pregnancy.

Trichomoniasis is caused by a parasite, called trichomonas vaginalis. The parasite is an anaerobic, flagellated protozoan and is considered the most common infectious organism among its species. Symptoms of the infection range from none to itching and discharge in the genital area for both infected sexual partners.

Unlike bacterial vaginosis, the transfer of trichomoniasis happens during sexual intercourse. Untreated infected individuals increase their risk of premature labor and delivery, low birth weight, increased mortality, the acquisition of cervical cancer, and catching other STDs including HIV.

Some studies show that trichomonas vaginalis also reside in the urinary tract, pelvis, and fallopian tube. It is also a causative agent of pneumonia, bronchitis, and oral lesions. As far as the male population is concerned, the disease is found to cause asymptomatic inflammation of the urethra (urethritis), and the swelling of the prostate gland(prostatitis). Treatment usually involves the taking of antibiotics.

The common symptoms that may occur in both vaginal infections include itching (which may also manifest in another similar disease such as candidiasis), burning sensation during urination, and redness or swelling in the vulva.

Bacterial vaginosis’ presentation of an imbalance growth of bacteria in a woman’s vagina exposes the infected host to further risk of contracting STDs like trichomoniasis. Thus, BV becomes an agent for trichomoniasis’ further spread to a population initially infected by the former.

In one study titled “Bacterial Vaginosis and Risk for Trichomonas Vaginalis Infection: A Longitudinal Analysis” by Sujit D. Rathod, MSc. et al., published in the journal Sex Trans Dis in which respondents consisting of 853 young, sexually active women from Mysore, India were interviewed and tested for bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis between 2005 and 2006, it was discovered that women showing the signs and symptoms of BV during a 3-month period appear to have significantly increased risk of acquiring trichomoniasis infection. It also recommends that women living in low economy areas and found to have abnormal vaginal flora should be investigated for trichomoniasis.