Bacterial Vaginosis is one of the most common vaginal infections in women who are of childbearing age, women who are ages 15-44 years old are the ones commonly affected by this infection. But how many different strains of bacteria are involved?
That is the question we are going to answer today!
Keep reading to find out the Main Bacteria That Causes Bacterial Vaginosis!
What are the Bacteria that cause Bacterial Vaginosis?
This bacteria can occur spontaneously in the vagina. It can be transmitted through sexual relations with multiple partners especially if a condom is not used. It causes urinary tract infection.
Women with bacterial vaginosis have a high concentration of Gardnerella vaginalis bacteria, lack of lactobacillus and increase in the anaerobic bacteria in their vaginal flora. The fishy odour from the vaginal secretions is caused by the breakdown of amino acids produced by Gardnerella vaginalis. This also causes an increase in the pH of the vaginal environment.
Treatment – Gardnerella vaginalis is commonly treated with antibiotics such as Metronidazole and clindamycin. It can be both orally taken and vaginal creams applied to the genital area.
Treatments with antibiotics are effective however, there are chances that the infection can recur. You must complete the dosage as prescribed by the Medical Care Provider.
Studies done found out that there are male participants who have Gardnerella vaginalis present in their penis. Always practice safe sex and if there is an infection present, it is advisable to abstain from it while undergoing treatment.
- Metronidazole 500mg orally twice a day for 7 days
- Metronidazole gel 0.75% 5 grams, apply it inside the vagina once a day for 5 days
- Clindamycin cream 2% 5 grams, apply it inside the vagina during bedtime for 7 days
- Tinidazole 2 grams once a day orally for 2 days
- Tinidazole 1 gram once a day orally for 5 days
- Clindamycin 300mg twice a day orally for 7 days
- Clindamycin ovules 100mg, apply it inside the vagina during bedtime for 3 days. Clindamycin uses oleaginous base and it can weaken the latex or rubber products. Sex is not advisable during the first 72 hours of Clindamycin treatment.
Even when the symptoms have subsided, you must complete the recommended dose by the Doctor to prevent possibilities of recurring infection and also prevent bacterial resistance. Alcohol consumption is discouraged while taking these medications as it can disrupt the effect of the medications.
This is an anaerobic gram negative rod shaped bacteria that is also been incriminated in the prevalence of bacterial vaginosis. It’s been studied and shown to be significantly associated with BV. This research was carried out using PCR technology.
Prevotella is present in a normal vagina but at very small levels, but what makes it so dangerous is it’s ability to increase the Ph of the vagina which leads to other opportunistic pathogens to start to multiply and thrive in these hospitable conditions.
It has something called polyamines which are released during normal metabolic activity and causes the ph to increase.
This is an anaerobic gram positive non-spore forming bacteria that is actually part of the normal flora of the vagina, however in certain circumstances it can become an opportunistic pathogen. This usually happens when multiple bacteria work together to increase the Ph.
This type of bacteria is commonly found in the urinary tract and genitals of both women and men but it is more commonly found in women. It normally does not cause infection but for individuals who have a weak immune system, they can get an infection from it. These bacteria can also cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease and it also causes certain types of infection for women who are pregnant.
To treat this type of bacteria, the attending physician can prescribe Fluoroquinolones like Moxifloxacin, Levofloxacin. Macrolides like Azithromycin, Erythromycin. Tetracyclines like Doxycycline.
Lactobacillus: The Good Bacteria
This is commonly found in the normal vaginal environment as well as the intestinal tract. It produces lactic acid, making the pH of the Vagina slightly acidic. It is considered as a probiotic and it helps with proper digestion in the gastrointestinal tract. The lack of this type of bacteria predisposes a woman to have increased bad bacteria in the genital tract. If this happens she will be at risk of having bacterial vaginosis.
If there is a decrease in the lactobacillus in the vaginal environment, you must take probiotics. Probiotics are also known as good bacteria that come with different benefits to the human body. There are lots of foods that contain them. Here are some of them:
- Yogurt – Low-fat Greek yogurt with no added flavors, make sure that the ingredient list includes live or active cultures so you know that it is a good source of probiotics.
- Buttermilk – Buttermilk is a good source of natural probiotics, live cultures of good bacteria are used to ferment the sugars of the milk. Remember not to cook it because it will kill all the live cultures in it.
- Kefir – You can compare Kefir to drinkable yogurt. It is created by fermenting milk with yeast and bacteria and it is commonly referred to as kefir grains. You must choose plain flavor so there are no added sugars or other flavors. You can try it with cereal for breakfast or mix it with fruits just like a fruit shake or drink it like milk.
- Cultured cottage cheese – When buying cultured cottage cheese make sure it is mixed with live cultures like L acidophilus and other lactic cultures. It is different than the normal cottage cheese in the supermarket.
- Miso – This is done by fermenting cooked soybeans mixed with rice, salt, and koji. It can be used instead of ordinary salt in your favorite recipes. You must buy the unpasteurized miso paste in supermarkets and you can add it to cooked dishes before removing them from the fire.
- Kimchi – Kimchi is a well-known Korean dish. It is made from fermenting pickled cabbage; it can be also mixed with radish, onion, red pepper, and ginger. Look for freshly made kimchi in different Asian markets. Kimchi bought in jars has been heat-treated already and do not contain live cultures.
- Sauerkraut – Sauerkraut is made using fermentation process. It is a good source of live cultures. When buying one, check out the ones available in the refrigerated section and check the label if it contains live cultures in it. If not then it is already heat treated and most likely does not have live cultures.
- Kombucha – Kombucha is made from using sweetened tea fermented with yeasts and bacteria. It is slightly carbonated and rich in probiotics. You can look for it in the refrigerated areas of supermarkets and grocery stores.
Bacterial Vaginosis Symptoms
A woman with Bacterial Vaginosis could have these symptoms.
- Unusual watery, thin or whitish gray vaginal discharge
- Fishy vaginal smell
- Burning sensation in the vagina
- Itchy vaginal opening
- Painful sensation after intercourse
- Burning sensation while urinating
- The vaginal pH greater than 4.5
- Presence of clue cells (Vaginal cells coated with bacteria) When tested under the microscope
- Fishy odour when the vaginal discharge is mixed with a drop of Potassium Hydroxide on a glass side (this is considered as the “Whiff test”)
Diagnosis for Bacterial Vaginosis
If you have the following symptoms mentioned above you must immediately seek medical help from your Medical Care Provider. The doctor will ask you about the vaginal odour and if there is an abnormal discharge. Your medical history will also be asked accordingly and it may include the following:
- Last menstrual period
- Sex partners if you have multiple partners in the past
- History of Vaginal and urinary tract infection
- History of Sexually transmitted diseases or infections or pelvic infections
- History of using the contraceptive device
- History of pregnancy if with children
- Hygiene habits – using of deodorants for the vagina and douching using different kinds of chemicals
- Using fit and tight underwear
- History of using tampons
- Medical history – if with other diseases like diabetes or if you recently took Antibiotics for an infection.
The medical care provider can diagnose Bacterial Vaginosis depending on the physical examination and laboratory exams done using the vaginal fluid.
How do you prevent Bacterial Vaginosis?
Bacterial Vaginosis can be prevented. It usually occurs in women who are sexually active. It can also be found in women who are not sexually active or who have been in the long term relationships with just one partner. The infection can also occur even after completion of the prescribed treatment by the medical care provider. Sometimes the male sex partner is also treated.
The vagina normally contains good and bad bacteria. Lactobacillus is the good bacteria that help prevent other infection to occur in the vagina. If there is a decreased amount, the bad bacteria can proliferate and it can lead to bacterial infection which is known as Bacterial Vaginosis.
Bacterial Vaginosis usually occurs to women who are in her reproductive years. It is a mild infection but it can cause other risk factors and other complications if it is not treated accordingly. If a woman has bacterial vaginosis, she is at risk of getting HIV, gonorrhoea, and chlamydia. There is also a risk for post-surgical infection and they can develop an infection after having surgeries in the reproductive system like hysterectomy or abortion.
You can prevent Bacterial Vaginosis by practising proper hygiene, using condoms when having sexual intercourse, avoiding multiple sex partners. Clean and wash the vagina and anus and wipe from front to back after urinating or defecating. Using natural probiotics and home remedies can help treat and heal the bacterial vaginosis infection.
If your Attending Physician has prescribed you with antibiotics as a treatment, make sure to take the full dosage even if you are feeling better after taking the medication for a few days. Bacterial Vaginosis is a very common infection and even with preventive steps, it can help reduce the risks. Women who have symptoms they must seek treatment to prevent possible complications from the untreated bacterial vaginosis.