Bacterial Vaginosis

Woman with bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is inflammation of the vagina caused by an overgrowth of bacteria.

This vaginal condition is most commonly found in women of child-bearing age.  In fact, it is the most common vaginal infection of women in the age range of 15 to 44 years old.

It is possible though for women of any age to experience this health issue.

BV affects millions of women worldwide.

Common signs and symptoms of BV include increased vaginal discharge with an amine-like odor (“fishy”) and adnexal tenderness.  Adnexal tenderness is tender feeling or minor pain in the pelvic region.

However, many women with BV are asymptomatic.

Studies have found that women without bacterial vaginosis have 1 to 6 vaginal bacteria species (3.3 is the mean) when samples are taken.  Lactobacillus were the most commonly found type of bacteria.

Women with BV were found to have 9  to 17 types of vaginal bacteria (12.6 is the mean) when samples are taken.  Essentially, women with BV have very complex vaginal bacterial flora.  This disrupts the natural bacteria flora balance of the vagina.

There tends to be an overgrowth of anaerobic bacteria and a lack of normal lactobacilli found in women with BV.  Gardnerella vaginalis is a bacterial species commonly implicated in BV.

Bacterial vaginosis is a risk factor for obstetric infections and may be a risk factor for pelvic inflammatory disease.  This means that diagnosing symptomatic and asymptomatic BV in pregnant women is very important.

Antibiotics can be used to treat BV.  Metronidazole and clindamycin are the two antibiotics most commonly used in the treatment of bacterial vaginosis.

Lactobacillus probiotics may be useful in the prevention and treatment of BV.  The jury is still out regarding the use of probiotics but it may provide some benefit.

Boric acid suppositories are a treatment option for BV if standard antibiotic treatments are ineffective.  Boric acid suppositories are not readily, commercially available.  This usually means that you will have to find a compounding pharmacy in your area that makes boric acid suppositories.

Other related topics of interest may include yeast infection.