Bacterial Vaginosis is sometimes referred to as Vaginitis. It is an inflammation of the vagina and can include several different strains of germs that are commonly associated with trichomoniasis or vaginosis yeast infections. bacterial Vaginosis is the most common vaginal infection with estimates ranging from 10% to over 50% of women being effected by it at any given time. Bacterial Vaginosis is most common in women who are considered to be in their reproductive years, though it is not exclusive to this age group and can infect any woman. The infection can spread from the vagina to affect the bladder and urethra, along with the genital skin.
When left untreated it can lead to a number of more serious conditions, including endometriosis, cervicitis and Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. It can also cause complications in woman who are pregnant and in spreading post operative infections.
What are the Causes of Bacterial Vaginosis?
The technical reason that is attributed to bacterial vaginosis is an imbalance between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria in the vagina. In a normal situation the vagina includes small amounts of anaerobic bacteria and the Gardnerella Organism. These ‘bad bacteria’ are balanced in a healthy vagina by ‘good bacteria’ – most notably Lactobacilli. Bacterial Vaginosis occurs where this balance is upset and the Gardnerella becomes dominant in the Vagina.
There are a number of factors which may lead to this imbalance. One known cause is the spread of E. Coli, a bacteria which normally inhabits the rectum, into the vaginal area. The infection is also more likely to start when you are in poor health, practice poor hygiene habits, use a vaginal douche or use an intrauterine device to practice birth control. The risk increases where the bodies defenses are already lowered, such as the case of high stress levels, or lowered immunity during or following illness. Woman who suffer from diabetes or have entered menopause are also more at risk. African American woman have a greater chance of infection, and women who have multiple sexual partners are also considered a higher risk.
So What are the Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis?
It is possible to suffer from an infection of Bacterial Vaginosis and initially experience no visible symptoms. An itching or burning is common, though sometimes this is only mild and not seen by the sufferer as anything worth getting checked out. The most common symptom associated with acterial Vaginosis is an unpleasant odor, often described as being ‘fishy’.
In many cases the infection is picked up in a routine gynecological visit. It is diagnosed initially by a physical inspection and confirmed with lab testing.