Bacterial Vaginosis is the most common vaginal infection and it usually occurs when there is an alteration of the vaginal ecosystem which is commonly dominated by lactobacilli bacteria. When Bacterial Vaginosis occurs the vaginal environment is dominated by anaerobes, mycoplasma species or Gardnerella vaginalis and there is an increase in the vaginal pH.
Bacterial Vaginosis can cause different risks and complications to a woman in her reproductive years. Is it really true? Can BV cause infertility? There is no concrete answer to this question but we are here today to discuss how Bv can cause infertility to reproductive-aged women.
The bacteria that cause bacterial vaginosis do not prevent pregnancy per se but if there is damage caused by recurring or untreated infection, there is a possibility that it can cause infertility. There are cases that women who are suffering from BV also experience having an infection to travel from the vagina to the other parts of the reproductive system such as the cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries, this condition is also known as PID or Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.
The bacterial infection can cause scarring and it may block the tubes and there is a high possibility of infertility and if a woman gets pregnant there is a high chance of ectopic pregnancy to occur. If the infection is treated and this does not happen very often. Usually, when a woman experiences something weird in their genital area this makes her visit the doctor or gynecologist for check-up and treatment. By doing this, the infection is prevented from spreading in the different parts of the reproductive system.
Treating bacterial vaginosis usually takes a long time. There are instances that treatment for bacterial vaginosis will require more than one round of antibiotics to treat the infection. It also helps if there are other home remedies you can use simultaneously to help deal with the infection successfully.
If you are planning to get pregnant but you are suffering from BV, check out these recommendations:
- Improve your immune system – By being able to improve your immune system, you will be able to have a healthy body and will be conducive for the sperm and egg to properly fertilise and be able to conceive a baby.
- Proper diet and active lifestyle – Make sure that you are doing all the necessary steps that will help your body heal and make your reproductive system ready to get pregnant. Once you are free from BV, you can start planning your pregnancy.
- Talk to your Attending Physician – If you have been having a hard time conceiving a baby or getting pregnant, make sure to consult the experts about it. Ask for advice and what are the alternatives that you need to do.
What Is Infertility?
In the United States alone there are about 6.1 million women who have difficulty getting pregnant and this is caused by a problem in one of the following steps of conception:
- A woman’s body must release an egg from one of her ovaries (ovulation).
- The egg must go through a fallopian tube toward the uterus (womb).
- A man’s sperm must join with (fertilise) the egg along the way.
- The fertilised egg must attach to the inside of the uterus (implantation).
Main Causes Of Infertility
Most cases of female infertility are caused by problems with ovulation. Without ovulation, there are no eggs to be fertilised. Some signs that a woman is not ovulating normally include irregular or absent menstrual periods.
Less common causes of fertility problems in women include:
- Blocked fallopian tubes due to pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, or surgery for an ectopic pregnancy
- Physical problems with the uterus
- Uterine fibroids, which are non-cancerous clumps of tissue and muscle on the walls of the uterus.
Research Suggests BV Causes Infertility!
A research paper in the Journal of international Aids and STD’s looked at the the correlation between bv and infertility and the results showed there was indeed a link!
Bv was screened using the gram staining procedure and screened using the Nugent score. Out of the 510 women who participated, 72 (14.1%) had BV. In pregnant women, the infection rate was low. Women who had Bv also had other infections too such as Candida and hpv which suggests that the chance of infertility is higher when Bv is lingering around.
Scientists are calling for women to be screened for bacterial vaginosis if they are pregnant or trying for one because it’s apparent there is a link, even if it’s not that high. Some women will be affected!
One other study done in 2013 also concluded that the prevalence of BV was significantly higher in infertile than fertile women (45.5% vs 15.4%). The regression model showed bv was the main factor interfering with pregnancy.
PID and Bacterial Vaginosis?
Studies have been done and it shows that there is a connection between PID and Bacterial Vaginosis. What is PID or Pelvic Inflammatory Disease? It is known for being one of the causes of infertility in reproductive-aged women.
Pelvic Inflammatory disease is the infection of the female reproductive organs. It happens when the infection spreads from the vagina to the other parts of the reproductive system such as fallopian tubes, uterus, and ovaries.
PID sometimes do not show any symptom and there is a possibility that when you learn that you have this disease it is already too late for you especially when you are trying to get pregnant but having no luck in that department. If it comes with symptoms the usual ones are:
- Pain when urinating
- Increased temperature and sometimes it comes with chills
- Increased vaginal discharge with an unpleasant smell
- Unusual bleeding of the uterus whenever having sex or in between cycles of the menstruation
- Pain in the lower part of the abdomen and pelvic area.
- Pain during and after intercourse with a partner
When you have the following symptoms after you have been diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis, make sure to consult your Medical Care Provider. It is better to be treated early to prevent the complications of this disease. Scarring from the bacterial infection can cause ectopic pregnancy and may cause difficulty in getting pregnant.
The cervical mucus is normally produced by the cervix. It contains water, sugars, electrolytes, and proteins. Together with Semen, it helps the sperm live longer to and for it to be able to reach the matured egg and fertilise it. It also helps with the sperm’s journey and makes it a quick and safe process.
The cervical fluid helps the sperm in different ways:
- Alkaline environment – A woman’s vagina is slightly acidic and fertile cervical fluid is alkaline which is the preferred environment for the sperm.
- Provides nutrients and sustenance for the sperm – When the sperm is swimming through the cervix in order for it to reach the egg in the fallopian tube. Since the trip is very long, the cervical fluid provides nutrition for the sperm to be able to stay alive.
- Pathway for the sperm – When the sperm is swimming the fertile cervical mucus is made of crystalline structure that keeps a nice passageway for the sperm to swim quickly with less effort. The fertile cervical mucus also filters the irregular sperms so only healthy ones can meet the egg in the fallopian tube.
How to check your cervical mucus?
- Wash and dry your hands.
- Find a comfortable position.
- Reach your index finger inside the vaginal walls. The amount of cervical mucus will depend on where you will reach; near the cervix is the ideal spot.
- Observe the consistency of the cervical mucus. Look at the mucus in your finger and roll it in between two fingers (use thumb and index fingers)
- Mark down the chart the findings
Types of Cervical Fluid
- Menstruation – Bleeding every month for 3-7 days. During this time, there may be or no cervical fluid present.
- None – When the period ends usually some women have no cervical mucus present.
- Sticky or pasty – This cervical mucus is present in the 7th day. The period of fertility has begun.
- Creamy – The increasing level of oestrogen occurs as the cycle progresses. When the level of oestrogen increases, the water content also increases.
- Egg white – The cervical mucus is clear, slippery and can stretch for one or more inch. Its consistency is like a raw egg white.
- Watery – The cervical mucus is more like water. The water content is so high, and it is clear and slippery. There is a wet sensation in the vagina and you may feel that the period already started.
pH is how you measure the acidity or alkalinity of a substance. The pH is acidic if less than 7; the pH is basic if more than 7.
The pH level of a vagina is usually slightly acidic. The normal pH of a woman in her reproductive years is 3.8 to 4.5.
A vaginal environment with Acidic pH creates a protective barrier that discourages the growth of bad bacteria and yeast in the vagina that can cause infection of the vagina.
Vaginal pH level that is alkaline provides a conducive environment for the bad bacteria to grow. If a woman has high vaginal pH she is at risk for different types of infections. If you have bacterial vaginosis, the pH of the vaginal environment is alkaline.
Unbalanced Vaginal pH can be caused by different factors:
- Unprotected sex – If with a new partner, always use a condom. Semen causes the growth of different types of bacteria which can also cause infection.
- Vaginal douching – Women who wash their genital area with a mixture of water and other chemicals like baking soda, vinegar, and iodine. When you regularly douche, the pH level of the vagina is affected and it may allow the growth of bad bacteria.
- Menstrual period – The pH of the vagina is changed when a woman is undergoing her menstrual period. Menstrual blood has a basic pH. It allows the growth of bad bacteria in the vagina.
Vaginal infections can be easily treated by topical creams and antibiotics. There are some steps that can be done to prevent bacterial vaginosis from occurring.
- Keep the vaginal clean and dry – Moisture allows the growth of bad bacteria.
- Stay away from douches, scented wipes, and sprays – This can affect the pH of the vaginal environment, when this occurs it allows the growth of bacteria.
- Avoid wearing tight pants and underwear.
- Avoid feminine pads and tampons – I encourage you to use reusable cloth pads, menstrual cups, and organic pads.
Women with bacterial infection usually have abnormal cervical fluid. There are unusual smell and different consistencies of the cervical mucus. Mild cases of bacterial vaginosis may go away without using treatment, however, if left untreated the infection can become severe and it can make a woman susceptible to sexually transmitted infections and this increases the risk of having PID or Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. Vaginal infections can cause an imbalance in the pH of the Vagina. If you want to get pregnant, this may increase the difficulty for the sperm to reach the egg in the fallopian tube.