Sexually transmitted infections aren’t the only thing to be on the lookout for, obviously. Our bodies are complex and can have all sorts of afflictions. SelfCollect is committed to helping people diagnosis these ailments and get the answers they seek, and while not an STI, bacterial vaginosis is no different! This time on the blog we will discuss bacterial vaginosis tests, symptoms, causes and treatments.
Bacterial Vaginosis – Tests, Causes, Symptoms, Treatments
What is Bacterial Vaginosis?
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) represents vaginal discomfort casued by an imbalance of certain specific types of bacteria normally found in the vagina, usually Gardnerella or Atopobium. However, when these bacteria grow to an excess, it creates an imbalance and disproportionate amounts of ‘harmful’ bacteria will develop.
While the exact cause of bacterial vaginosis is not known, there are a few things that seem to increase the risk of developing it.
- Douching on a regular basis (which can really mess with the natural balance of the vagina)
- Having recently taken a course of antibiotics
- Multiple or new sexual partners.
What are the Symptoms
Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis can vary from person to person. Some women never experience symptoms or signs but if you experience any of these, pay attention!
- Thin, gray, white, or green vaginal discharge
- Foul-smelling or ‘fishy’ odor
- Burning when urinating
- Vaginal itching/irritation
If left untreated, the infection could develop into other complications such as:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease: BV can sometimes cause a further infection and inflammation of the uterus and fallopian tubes.
- Sepsis: Inflammation of the whole body from a secondary infection.
- Bladder inflammation
- Birth complications: In expecting mothers, BV has been linked to low birth weight and premature deliveries.
- Increased risk of sexually transmitted infections: Bacterial vaginosis increases risk for contracting other sexually transmitted diseases such as herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, or HIV.
How to Prevent Bacterial Vaginosis
Now that we’ve seen just how troublesome and downright dangerous BV can be, let’s look at a few ways to prevent developing it.
Minimize Vaginal Irritations
Don’t use scented pads or tampons and only use mild, non-deodorant soaps for washing.
Avoid Sexually Transmitted Infections
Infections of any sort will interfere with the natural balance of the vagina. Practice safe sex and use male latex condoms. Limiting your number of partners or abstaining entirely can also do the trick.
Treating Bacterial Vaginosis
Treating BV is done through a number of different medications, usually antiobiotics. Whether administered as a pill or cream, the treatments are meant to fight off the bacterial imbalance. It is fairly common for BV to recur within the first year, and therefore needing additional treatment.
While a male partner doesn’t usually require treatment, female partners do have the risk of spreading it so they should seek out testing and treatment as well.
Some current research does suggest that attempting to boost the good bacteria in your vagina through lactobacillus colonization therapy may provide some benefit, but more research is still needed. As it is, if you don’t have any allergies or problems with certain kinds of foods or yogurt that contain the lactobacilli, it could be a helpful change to your diet.
Any of this sound familiar? While bacterial vaginosis is not a sexually transmitted infection, it is still certainly something worth addressing. You might like to grab yourself one of our Vaginal Discharge Panel tests. SelfCollect is private, confidential, and most importantly accurate. When you use a SelfCollect at home collection kit, you can confidently trust your results and move forward with that information however you need. Don't be afraid. Be smart. Get tested!