Most of us would probably have only heard of vaginal yeast infection. Do you think that yeast is the predominant cause of vaginal infections in girls?
Well, think again!
The main cause of vaginal infection is not yeast but actually Bacterial Vaginosis (BV).
Unlike the more familiar sounding “yeast infection”, most girls are actually still unaware of this very common condition and what the term “BV” means.
What Is Bacterial Vaginosis? Is It An STD?
BV is caused by a bacterium known as Gardnerella Vaginalis.
This bacteria can normally be found even in a healthy vagina. It is NOT sexually transmitted.
Symptoms of BV usually occur whenever there is a shift in the balance of the vaginal flora, which may lead to the Gardnerella bacteria flourishing.
Even though BV is not considered a sexually transmitted disease, sexually active girls may be more prone to getting it compared to girls who are abstinent.
What Are The Common Symptoms Of Bacterial Vaginosis?
Symptoms of BV may include:
- No symptoms
- Vaginal discharge
- Vaginal itch
- Fishy odour from the vaginal area
- Discomfort during sex
- Spotting between periods or after sex
How Did I Get Bacterial Vaginosis?
The imbalance in vaginal flora can be easily triggered by anything, including daily habits and lifestyle factors.
Common Risk Factors for BV are:
- Use of feminine wash
- Daily use of pantyliners
- Vaginal douching
- Tight underwear or pants
- Recent antibiotic use
- New sexual partner or multiple partners
- Use of sex toys
- Having an intrauterine contraceptive device
How Is Bacterial Vaginosis Diagnosed?
Many patients confuse the symptoms of BV for a yeast infection, with many turning to over the counter medications to self-medicate to no avail.
That is because medications for vaginal yeast infection WILL NOT help to treat BV. Instead of self-medicating, it is important for you to consult a doctor for your symptoms. Your doctor will then proceed to do a vaginal examination and take vaginal swabs for further investigation.
BV is diagnosed through a lab test when the bacteria, Gardnerella Vaginalis is identified under the microscope. The typical “clue cells” that are characteristic for Gardnerella will usually be identified.
Does Bacterial Vaginosis Cause Any Complications?
BV is extremely common, and is the top cause for vaginal infections in women. It can be easily treated and is curable.
Treating BV is especially important for pregnant women as it can lead to an increased risk of miscarriage, premature rupture of membranes or preterm labour.
There have also been studies that have shown that BV may be associated with an increased risk of pelvic inflammatory disease.
How Is Bacterial Vaginosis Treated?
As BV is caused by the bacteria, Gardnerella, the treatment of choice will be with antibiotics of course!
A course of Metronidazole antibiotic is an effective way of treating BV. Metronidazole can come in the form of vaginal pessaries or oral medication. Pessaries are, in my opinion, very effective in treating the infection.
The next course of action to consider is to prevent the infection from recurring. This can be done by modifying your daily feminine habits.
You can also consider probiotics, which can help to maintain the healthy bacterial balance in the vagina and prevent the risk of this infection coming back.