What is Bacterial Vaginosis and What Does it Look Like?

By | July 5, 2017

Bacterial vaginosis is a vaginal infection resulting from the imbalance of bacteria in the vagina, leading to an overgrowth of bad anaerobic bacteria to the detriment of protective bacteria.

Experts aren’t sure exactly what causes the vaginal bacteria to get out of balance; however, certain factors make the infection more likely to occur. Your risk of acquiring BV is greater if you:

* douche and/or smoke;

* have multiple sex partners;

* are using IUDs for contraception;

* have poor hygiene practices;

* are vulnerable to stress.
BV is not dangerous but can cause unpleasant, disturbing symptoms. It may not always show any symptoms, but when it does, it is often characterized by the following:

* unpleasant “fishy” vaginal odor, which is more noticeable after sex

* abnormal amount and consistency of vaginal discharge

* vaginal discharge that is clumpy, cloud, and white or gray in color

* vaginal itching

* burning or painful urination
BV is not transmitted by casual contact such as through bedding, toilet seats, eating utensils, door knobs, or swimming pools. It can, however, spread from woman to woman during sexual contact.

Treatment and Prevention

In some cases, BV clears up on its own, without any treatment. Even so, all women showing symptoms of the infection should immediately treated to alleviate symptoms and prevent development of more serious conditions such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

BV is often treated with antibiotics such as oral metronidazole or clindamycin or metronidazole creams, as prescribed by a medical specialist. Metronidazole kills off bad bacteria without harming the protective lactobacilli. Avoid drinking alcohol if you’re metronidazole as doing so can cause severe vomiting and nausea.
In addition to prescription medicines, supplement therapies may also be used. Fresh garlic has potent antibacterial properties and can help ease symptoms of BV when added to your diet. You may also wrap a peeled fresh garlic in a gauze and insert it into your vagina. Change it twice daily.

Probiotics are also a great option in treating BV. Add more probiotic foods to your diet, such as plain yogurt and fermented foods. Probiotic supplements that contain at least 1 billion CFUs or oral probiotics may also be taken.
Before it occurs, reduce your risk of getting BV by practicing the following:
* practice good hygiene; wipe from front to back after urination and bowel movements to prevent the spread of bacteria from the anus to the vagina
* avoid wearing latex or tight clothing; wear cotton underwear and pantyhose with a cotton crotch, and pants or shorts that fit loosely in the crotch to keep the sensitive area dry and cool

* avoid using feminine sprays and perfumed soaps

* reduce your stress levels to support immune system

* discontinue using tampons for 6 months (probiotic tampons may be used as an alternative)

* avoid douching as this can remove the normal flora in the vagina that protect against infection

* test for BV routinely during gynecological examinations

While BV is more common among sexually active women, it can also occur even if you’re not sexually active. If you experience symptoms of BV, see a medical specialist right away.