Bacterial vaginosis, also known as BV, is a very common condition that can affect any woman. It is thought to be the most common type of vaginal infection in premenopausal women. In spite of its prevalence, many women are not aware of the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis and therefore do not seek treatment for this potentially harmful condition. The human vagina naturally contains bacteria, which are not harmful. Bacterial vaginosis develops when the natural colonies of good bacteria are overwhelmed by harmful bacteria. This is more likely to happen after having sex with a new partner.
Douching the vagina with water or soap can also lead to bacterial vaginosis as it kills off the vagina’s natural bacteria, giving harmful bacteria an opportunity to move in. Bacterial vaginosis, if left untreated, can increase the risk of being infected by other STDs and also cause complications during pregnancy such as premature labor. For this reason, it is important to recognize the warning signs of bacterial vaginosis so that you can seek treatment.
Not all women with bacterial vaginosis have symptoms, but the following three signs of BV are common in many cases.
Any change in a woman’s normal discharge should be investigated, as it suggests a problem with the reproductive system. One of the most common bacterial vaginosis symptoms is thin discharge that is white, gray or pale yellow.
One symptom of bacterial vaginosis that can distinguish it from other vaginal infections, such as thrust, is that BV is usually characterized by a strong fishy smell. The odor associated with BV is generally unpleasant and is more noticeable immediately after having sex.
Burning or itching
Some women who have bacterial vaginosis experience a burning sensation when they urinate. However, burning upon urination can also be a sign of a bladder infection, so a woman with this symptom will need to see a doctor to diagnose her condition; a diagnosis of BV can be made by taking a swab of the vaginal fluid and testing it in the laboratory to detect harmful bacteria.
Itching around the vagina is also sometimes a symptom of bacterial vaginosis.
Again, this is also a symptom of other conditions, particularly fungal infections, so a physician should be consulted to confirm the diagnosis if other symptoms of BV are not present.
What to Do If You Have Signs of Bacterial Vaginosis?
The symptoms of bacterial vaginosis sometimes clear up on their own after a few days. However, the underlying infection may still be present, and could cause problems if the woman becomes pregnant or is exposed to another type of sexually transmitted infection.
For this reason, it is a good idea to treat bacterial vaginosis as soon as possible using either a conventional or a natural treatment.
Conventional Treatment of Bacterial Vaginosis
Bacterial vaginosis is usually treated with antibiotics. The two drugs that are most commonly used to treat BV are called metronidazole and clindamycin. They are given to both pregnant and non-pregnant women, in different dosages, to treat bacterial vaginosis.
The antibiotic treatment may be given as pills that need to be swallowed, or as a cream that is applied directly to the vagina. Women should use the full course of antibiotics that has been prescribed to them, even if the symptoms disappear after only a day or two.
The problem with using antibiotics to treat bacterial vaginosis is that these harsh drugs kill off the good bacteria in the vagina as well as the harmful bacteria, leading to an increased risk of yeast infection.
Taking antibiotics orally can also upset the natural balance of bacteria in the gut, leading to digestive disturbances and discomfort.
Some nutrition experts recommend taking probiotic supplements once the treatment with antibiotics is complete to restock the gut with the friendly bacteria needed for digestion.
Natural treatments for bacterial vaginosis focus more strongly on boosting the number of good bacteria in the vagina, which will naturally displace the bacteria causing the BV infection if supported to do so.
Natural Treatment of Bacterial Vaginosis
Natural treatments of bacterial vaginosis take a gentler approach than conventional treatment with antibiotic. The woman suffering from BV is usually advised to change her diet to include plenty of fresh vegetables, drink plenty of water, and cut down on sugar.
These changes have a natural effect of flushing bad bacteria from the body and helping good bacteria to thrive. However, the effect is subtle.
A more effective approach is to place a suppository of boric acid into the vagina. These capsules are available from many health stores and some pharmacies. The boric acid changes the conditions in the vagina to make it less hospitable to the harmful bacteria that have moved in.
Some women use yogurt to treat their bacterial vaginosis infections, with some reporting great success with this treatment. Simply soak a tampon in probiotic yogurt for around 10 minutes; then insert it into the vagina and leave it there for a few hours.
This treatment needs to be repeated twice a day for a week to be effective.
How to Prevent Bacterial Vaginosis From Coming Back?
To prevent repeated bouts of bacterial vaginosis, you should eat a healthy diet, quit smoking, and keep scented soaps and bubble bath products away from the vagina.
Abstaining from sexual intercourse will also reduce the risk of infection.