Bacterial vaginosis is a vaginal infection caused by multiple bacteria. In the past, BV was thought to be caused by bacterium Gardnerella vaginalis but newer research indicates BV is caused by different types of bacteria that are present in the vagina.
Transmission of the bacterium is not fully understood but it is believed sexual contact provides a mean for infection to be transmitted between partners. Women with multiple sexual partners and women who practiced frequent douching have increase risk of developing bacterial vaginosis. Pregnant women are also at increase risk of developing BV. BV is not always transmitted through sexual contact as women who are not sexually active can also get the infection. BV develops when there is a change in pH balance of the vagina.
In a healthy vagina the normal pH balance is acidic which prevents infection from occurring. The problems arise when normal pH balance is altered causing the vagina to be less acidic unable to control other bacteria from multiplying and become more susceptible to infections. Some of the factors that can alter the normal pH balance include having multiple sexual partners, douching, cigarette smoking, certain medication, and the use of IUD contraception.
It is unknown as to why different types of bacteria are present in the vagina other than the one that keeps the vagina healthy and why different types of bacteria combined to form bacterial vaginosis.
Most women may not experience any symptoms but when symptoms do occurs, most women experience abnormal vaginal discharge with unpleasant smell. The discharge is white or gray in color that usually occur after sexual intercourse. The amount of abnormal vaginal discharge varies from women to women. Other symptoms may also include burning during urination or itching around the genital area.
Men infected with BV may not experience any symptoms. When symptoms do occur, some may experience inflammation of the foreskin and glans, some may experience inflammation of the urethral tube, and some may experience bladder infection.
The infection can be treated with metronidazole taken orally for seven days. BV can also be treated with metronidazole gel or clindamycin cream that are as affective as oral medication. Pregnant women can also be safely treated with oral metronidazole, metronidazole gel or clindamycin cream. Even when the infection is treated successfully BV can recur and re-infect others.
BV is less
likely to be transmitted from female to male partners but more likely to
be transmitted between female sex partners. BV may go away on its own
without treatment but it is highly recommended for women to receive
treatment if they have BV symptoms to avoid complication. When left
untreated women with BV have increase risk of getting pelvic
inflammatory disease, HIV infection, and other STDs. Pregnant women who
are not treated for BV have increase risk of going into premature
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