There is much more than just the blessing of being a woman. To understand the body cycle and all other biological issues takes almost an entire womanhood. The most critical part about her is the reproductive system and all other functions that enable it. Bacterial vaginosis (also known as BV), is defined as a common bacterial vaginal infection. It cannot be termed fully as an infection because 'vaginosis' defines changing conditions in the vagina. This condition can be coined as an imbalance in the ecology of the normal and healthy bacteria and micro organisms in the vagina. It happens to all women, but is a common condition in most of the women in reproductive age. It is not caused by one single bacterium. Many bacteria cause the imbalance in what is medically termed as 'flora' of the vagina. The lactobacillus species of bacteria (healthy bacteria responsible for vital secretions and other functions of protecting the vagina) are mixed with other species of anaerobic bacteria like Gardnerella vaginalis, Mobiluncas species, Peptostreptococcus species, Prevotella species, that multiply with the healthy bacteria and thrive more than usual, that causes the imbalance. Hence, it is not a sexually transmitted disease and also not a typical infection like a yeast infection.
Its major cause is the imbalance in bacteria, and this can be triggered by various external factors. As we know, BV is not a sexually transmitted disease, it affects women who have not had sexual intercourse as well. But it is observed that intercourse may lead to BV. It is not the transmission of the bacteria that happens, but a change in the sexual partner may trigger this condition. Sexually active women are more likely to have it than women who are not. BV is also prominent is virgins equally. Factors like douching, birth control pills, improper clothing, hygiene sprays, sensitivity to certain soaps and detergents, excessive washing of the vagina, condoms that contain nonoxynol-9, and latex condoms, can cause bacterial vaginosis.
Signs and Symptoms
Its symptoms, most of the time are very meager. Only tests can reveal the issue. The pH levels rise because of the bacteria, making them high and more alkaline, and a pH paper test can reveal BV. Women can experience symptoms like white or grayish discharge that is described as 'fishy' smelling. Though itching and redness are not the most common symptoms, women may experience vulvovaginal itching, pain or burning sensation, specially while urinating. Pain during intercourse can also be one of the symptoms. It is important to understand that all these symptoms will not be seen in each and every BV case. Some women may have very little or none of the above symptoms too.
Bacterial Vaginosis During and After Period
Bacterial vaginosis after periods does not necessarily happen because of your period. Some women may notice mild or not notice any of the symptoms before menstruation. It is observed that the signs and symptoms are more prominent after sexual intercourse or during and after menstruation. The discharge can also be heavier after a period. The exact possibilities are not yet prominent, but activities like excess washing of the vagina, douching, use of hygiene sprays, scented tampons, other menstrual products, and even using sanitary pads can irritate the cervix and cause an imbalance in the pH levels of the vagina, causing an imbalance in the bacteria leading to bacterial vaginosis.
Diagnosis, Treatment and Risk Factors
The most common symptom of discharge will help in diagnosis. Other tests like testing the pH level of the vagina, and swab testing of the discharge can be advised. Only after confirmation of BV, a suitable treatment will be advised. There are drugs and also home remedies for bacterial vaginosis. In most of the women with mild or no symptoms, no treatment is the solution that works. Simply avoiding and taking care of certain activities help and BV will simply go on its own. However, it is wise to get a checkup done for the proper treatment. There are prescription treatments that help. Drugs like metronidazole (Flagyl, MetroGel) which is an antibiotic most commonly used to treat BV, or clindamycin (Cleocin) can be advised in pill or vaginal medication form. Metronidazole however needs proper caution. Read the caution leaflet carefully before taking the pill. During the treatment course, certain things like intercourse, birth control pills and methods, breastfeeding if you are nursing, need to be done after strict consultation with your health expert, as many of these activities may affect the treatment.
Treatment is important as it may create risks if untreated, and can develop into an infection. It can create pregnancy complications like early labor, womb infection, miscarriage, etc. A uterus infection is also possible in case of a gynecological surgery. Bacterial vaginosis therefore should not be neglected. This medical complication can be treated well, but a little knowledge on prevention will help a long way.