Bacterial vaginitis, also known as bacterial vaginosis (BV), is a medical condition which affects your vagina. A healthy vagina is inhabited by a number of bacteria—both good and bad. In a healthy vagina, the good bacteria are greater than the bad bacteria. In women with BV, the bad bacteria in the vagina multiply to the point that they surpass the number of good bacteria.
What are Causes?
The cause of this condition is unknown, it is however associated with the change in the pH of the vaginal area. Typically, the vaginal pH must be acidic in order to inhibit the growth of bad bacteria. In bacterial vaginitis the pH tends to be more alkaline.
This is not sexually transmitted but it is linked to having multiple sexual partners. Douching your vagina is also a risk factor for the condition.
Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatments
The main symptom is the characteristic vaginal discharge with foul, fishy odor. The vaginal discharge is usually thin with a grayish tinge. Sometimes, it is also associated with vaginal itching and discomfort. These symptoms, however, are not commonly observed. The itching is usually only present in the outer lining of the vagina and the burning sensation only comes with urination.
Bacterial vaginitis can be diagnosed through laboratory exams. A sample of the discharge will be collected by your doctor, and this sample will be sent to a laboratory for evaluation.
The infection can go away without treatment. But if the symptoms are severe enough to disrupt your daily routine, doctors usually prescribe antibiotics. Antibiotics such as metronidazole, clindamycin, and tinidazole are the drugs of choice for this condition. The common side effects of these antibiotics are nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Yeast infections can also occur while taking antibiotics. In addition, metronidazole is known to leave a metallic taste in the mouth.
Most women prefer not to take antibiotics. Some complain of the side effects. Others state that the effects of the antibiotics aren’t long-term. Some say that the vaginitis usually comes back after stopping the treatment.
Bacterial Vaginitis Can Cause Premature Labor
However, if you are pregnant taking antibiotics is necessary. This is because bacterial vaginitis, if left untreated, can cause preterm labor, premature deliver, and worse, abortion. Antibiotics are given to pregnant women during the second and third trimester to avoid teratogenic complications on the unborn child.
For women who choose not to take antibiotics, there are alternative home remedies for BV. The most common and perhaps the most recommended is yogurt. Yogurt helps in restoring the natural pH and the good bacteria in your vagina. Apple cider vinegar is also a common alternative treatment. Some women also suggest douching the vagina with hydrogen peroxide, although there a lot of arguments regarding this approach.
Aside from the fishy smell, BV is basically harmless on its own. However, having this condition can make you susceptible to HIV and other STDs. If you want treatment and are unsure of how to go about, do not hesitate to seek medical advice from a professional. Do not try any treatments or remedies which you are unsure of because you might end up making the condition worse.