What Is Bacterial Vaginosis?
Bacterial vaginosis is an infection of the female genital tract and is characterized by the production of a vaginal discharge, vaginal odor and extreme vaginal irritations. This infection is usually the result of the overgrowth of the normal vaginal flora. Unlike previous beliefs, bacterial vaginosis is caused by a number of microorganisms that normally live in the vagina. Some of these are beneficial to the body and some are detrimental. The balance between the different species of bacteria, therefore, leads to either a normal vaginal environment or an ‘infected’ one.
While bacterial vaginosis is not a life threatening condition, it can be quite disturbing and stressing for the infected woman. Bacterial vaginosis is one of the most common conditions affecting women worldwide. Treating bacterial vaginosis is seldom required. However, it may give rise to a number of complications, including pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility. Therefore, it is quite important to be able to identify all the associated signs and symptoms of bacterial vaginosis to prevent future complications.
What Are The Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis?
Most diseases are characterized by distinctive signs and symptoms, but not all. This is the case for bacterial vaginosis. In fact, only about 15% of women experience any symptom at all. The most common symptoms women seem to complain about are vaginal discharges and the associated odor. Very often, those are the only features of the disease which are present in an infected woman.
All women are different. Similarly, the amount of vaginal discharge they produce is different. Thus, all cases need to be individualized. What is ‘a lot’ is not necessarily pathologic. In fact, the texture and odor can often be more helpful to judge whether an infection or inflammation is taking place. Bacterial vaginosis usually presents with an unpleasant fishy odor and this together with the thin grayish vaginal discharge to make the diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis straightforward.
Very often, women present with increased vaginal discharge following sexual intercourse, and if you experience such symptoms, it could mean that you have bacterial vaginosis. Bacterial vaginosis is also characterised by tenderness in the vaginal area, especially during sexual intercourse, and it usually worsens following menstrual flow.
Another symptom usually attributed to bacterial vaginosis is itchiness in the genital region. However, this cannot be generalized as symptoms can be quite vague and non specific. Thus, all women with itchiness of the genital region do not necessarily have bacterial vaginosis. The same can be said about redness or warmth near the genitalia. Bacterial vaginosis is rarely associated with those symptoms. In fact, those symptoms are more common to a number of other medical conditions often mistaken for bacterial vaginosis.
These include some sexually transmitted diseases, vaginal yeast infection and urinary tract infection. Most of these diseases cause a vaginal discharge and can be mistaken for bacterial vaginosis. For example, in the case of vaginal yeast infections, a thick white discharge can often cause itchiness and soreness around the vagina; the texture and odor of the vaginal discharge can help distinguish between the different types of vaginal infection. These should be distinguished from bacterial vaginosis as they are treated differently.
Bacterial Vaginosis – A Better Future
Bacterial vaginosis is very often silent, with very few or no symptoms at all. Therefore, most women do not realize they have it until an opportunistic pelvic exam. In case you find out that you have some of the above mentioned symptoms, you should not be stressed simply because bacterial vaginosis is not considered a dangerous condition, unless poorly managed. Most of the time, bacterial vaginosis is self limiting. Thus, medical treatment is rarely needed to treat bacterial vaginosis. However, if you suspect you might be suffering from bacterial vaginosis.
You should definitely seek medical advice. Bacterial vaginosis can easily deteriorate into a pelvic inflammatory disease and remark: Missing Verb fertility issues. If you have no symptoms, not treating it is a viable option. However, should you be pregnant and have bacterial vaginosis, your doctor might recommend that you take an antibiotic. The most important component of an effective bacterial vaginosis management depends mainly on the identification of the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis, which can be very subtle at times. Prompt diagnosis will most certainly lead to better outcomes in the long term.