What Is It? Causes Symptoms Doctors & Specialists Testing Treatment Prevent Cure Guide
Gardnerella are one type of bacteria that have been implicated in the development of bacterial vaginosis.There are no effective home remedies to treat bacterial vaginosis, but the condition sometimes goes away on its own.
Bacterial vaginosis is a vaginal condition that results from an overgrowth of normal bacteria in the vagina. The condition was formerly referred to as Gardnerella vaginitis, after the bacteria that were believed to cause the condition. However, since there are a number of species of bacteria that naturally live in the vagina and can grow to excess or imbalance to cause the condition, the name bacterial vaginosis is the preferred term. As a result of overgrowth of certain bacteria, a vaginal discharge may result.
What Causes Bacterial Vaginosis?
The reasons for overgrowth of certain types of bacteria in the vagina or an imbalance in the growth of these bacteria are not fully understood. However, certain factors can increase a woman's risk of developing bacterial vaginosis, including:
having multiple sex partners,having a female sex partner, and
Vaginal douching also may increase the risk of developing bacterial vaginosis.
While the condition is more common in women with multiple sex partners, it is not believed to be contagious or entirely related to sexual activity since it is the result of overgrowth or imbalance in the bacteria normally present in the vagina. Moreover, women who have not had sexual activity can develop bacterial vaginosis.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis?
Vaginal discharge, often with a foul-smelling odor, is typically the only symptom of bacterial vaginosis. The discharge has been described as thin and gray to white in color. It is difficult to determine how much discharge represents an abnormal amount, since all women can have varying amounts of vaginal discharge. In general, any discharge that is in excess of normal for a particular woman can be regarded as abnormal. Many women with bacterial vaginosis have no symptoms at all.
When Should You Call Your Doctor If You Think You Have Bacterial Vaginosis?
If you experience an unusual or excessive vaginal discharge, a visit to your health-care professional is recommended so that more serious conditions can be ruled out, such as infection with Chlamydia or gonorrhea. The unpleasant symptoms of bacterial vaginosis also can be effectively treated.
QUESTION The vagina includes the labia, clitoris, and uterus. See Answer
Which Types of Doctors Treat Bacterial Vagniosis?
Gynecologists typically treat bacterial vaginosis, although primary care providers also may treat the condition.
What Exams and Tests Diagnose Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)?
The medical history and physical examination are the first steps in helping to distinguish bacterial vaginosis from more serious conditions.
After taking a medical history, the health care professional will perform a pelvic exam. During the exam, the doctor will observe the vaginal lining and cervix and will perform a manual examination of the ovaries and uterus. Also during the exam, the doctor may collect samples for examination under a microscope or for other studies to rule out the presence of sexually transmitted infections (STDs).
Examination of the discharge under the microscope can help distinguish bacterial vaginosis from yeast vaginitis (candidiasis) and trichomoniasis (a type of sexually transmitted infection). A sign of bacterial vaginosis under the microscope is an unusual cell referred to as a “clue cell.” Women with bacterial vaginosis also have fewer of the type of normal vaginal bacteria called lactobacilli. The vaginal pH (degree of acidity or alkalinity) may also be measured, since a vaginal pH greater than 4.5 also suggests bacterial vaginosis.
A so-called “whiff test” with potassium hydroxide (KOH) liquid is sometimes performed whereby a drop of KOH testing liquid is mixed with a drop of vaginal discharge. If bacterial vaginosis is present, a fishy odor can result.