Bacterial Vaginosis is the most common infection of the vagina. Women in their childbearing years are usually the ones that get BV. Women around 15-44 years old are affected because they have an active sexual lifestyle.
Although there are some studies mentioning women getting BV when they are not sexually active.
A lot of factors can cause Bacterial Vaginosis.
Does IUD cause BV?
In this article, we will focus on the IUD and how it can cause BV.
Bacterial Vaginosis can occur when there is an imbalance in the vaginal flora. The vagina normally consists of both good and bad bacteria with the good bacteria keeping the bad bacteria from proliferating and multiplying. The lactic acid produced by Lactobacillus keeps the vaginal pH slightly acidic between 3.8-4.5. The bad bacteria can only multiply when there is a sudden decrease in the number of the Lactobacillus.
BV is a common infection that can be treated by antibiotics and doing preventive measures. It sometimes goes away with the help of the immune system and the presence of good bacteria. However, if there are symptoms present, you need to undergo treatments as prescribed by the medical care practitioner.
The CDC recommends that women who exhibit symptoms of BV must always be treated because having an infection can pose risk and may cause possible complications. Having Bacterial Vaginosis can also increase a woman’s risk to have a sexually transmitted infection and even lead to a more serious problem of the reproductive system which is known as Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.
What Is IUD?
The Intrauterine device is a birth control device that is inserted in the uterus. It is very effective and can be used for the long-term. If a woman wants to get pregnant she can just have her IUD removed so she can try to conceive. It is a small flexible plastic usually shaped like a letter T. It is also called IUC or Intrauterine contraception.
What Are The Different Types Of IUD?
- Copper IUDs
- Hormonal IUDs
How Do IUDs Work?
An IUD is a contraceptive device that is inserted by a medical care provider into the uterus through the vagina and cervix; this is done as an outpatient procedure.
Both copper and hormonal IUDs prevent pregnancy by stopping the sperm from reaching the egg. An IUD changes the way the sperm cells move so they will not be able to get to an egg and fertilize it. If the sperm cannot reach the egg, pregnancy cannot happen. IUDs can be used for long term and can be easily removed by the assistance of your medical care provider.
Plastic IUDs or Hormonal IUDs have small amounts of hormones that are released in the uterus which help thicken the cervical mucus and this prevents fertilization. Copper IUDs, on the other hand, release small amounts of copper.
A lot of women have started using IUDs because they are easy to apply, highly effective in preventing pregnancies when compared with other contraceptive devices, and it is usually covered by health insurance. Women usually prefer IUDs because its protective effect lasts longer than other contraceptive devices; it is more effective than using birth control pills or condoms. Hormonal IUDs can provide protection between three to six years while Copper IUDs can provide pregnancy protection for almost 10 years.
IUDs like other devices also come with side effects although they are rare. The IUD could effect the vaginal ecosystem. There are studies conducted that show when a woman uses copper IUDs, there is a risk of catching Bacterial Vaginosis.
Other studies also found out that when an IUD is used, it supports colonies of harmful bacteria that can cause infection in the reproductive system. IUDs may be effective in preventing pregnancy but it cannot protect you against sexually transmitted infections.
How Do IUDs Affect The Vaginal Ecosystem?
Generally, IUDs are safe and effective in preventing pregnancy from happening, however copper IUDs can increase the risk of harbouring bacteria in the vagina and as a result you could get BV in the process. Studies have been done and show that using Copper IUDs are more likely to cause BV than the other IUDs. One study done showed that women who had Copper IUDs inserted in their uterus had BV after 180 days of insertion compared to women who did not have IUDs.
Women who wear Copper IUDs for longer periods of time have higher chances to have Mycoplasma and other infections like yeast. Hormonal or Plastic IUDs on the other hand, seem to not cause or increase a woman’s risk of having BV.
Why Do Copper IUDs Increase The Chance Of Bacterial Vaginosis?
Studies and research that has been done showed that Copper IUDs are covered in biofilms, these biofilms are thin layers of bacteria that can grow on the surface of the IUD while inside the uterus and they can cause the imbalance of the vaginal flora.
Experts have also speculated that when there is an IUD inside the uterus, it increases the menstrual flow and spotting and can also affect the vaginal flora, therefore affecting the number of good bacteria (Lactobacillus). This allows the bad bacteria (anaerobes) to proliferate which leads to an infection in the vagina.
What Are The Preventive Measures A Woman Can Do To Prevent BV?
- Maintain a healthy vaginal flora – healthy diets that include prebiotics and probiotics. Prebiotics are substances that allow the growth of good bacteria. Prebiotics include fibre-rich foods like vegetables and whole grains like onions, soybeans, and artichokes. Probiotics are substances that contain good bacteria that give health benefits when taken in significant amounts. Foods that are rich in probiotics are fermented such as: yogurt, buttermilk, kimchi, kombucha, and sauerkraut.
- Consult the medical care provider if you can take probiotic supplements – Probiotic supplements that contain Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus rhamnosus or a combination of both is preferable.
- When taking antibiotics, it is best to also take oral and vaginal probiotics to help reduce the symptoms of BV and also prevent the recurring of infection after a few months of taking the treatment. Take probiotics 2 to 3 hours before or after taking antibiotics to prevent the interaction of both substances. Remember!, antibiotics can kill off the live bacteria in the probiotics.
- Avoid vaginal douching or using scented soaps or wipes that can alter the normal vaginal flora. Vaginas are self-cleaning; just use simple unscented soaps or plain water when washing the area.
- Avoid unprotected sex or having multiple sexual partners. Unprotected sex usually allows the introduction of different bacteria that are considered foreign to the vagina and it can affect the normal vaginal flora. These bacteria can increase and multiply and disrupt the vaginal ecosystem, therefore, causing Bacterial Vaginosis.
When a woman in her reproductive years suddenly experiences symptoms of bv, she must consult the medical care provider so he/she can provide medical prescriptions such as antibiotics to treat BV.
IUDs are contraceptive devices that are inserted in the uterus to prevent the sperm getting to the egg and fertilizing it. It is highly effective in preventing pregnancies and is generally safe to use for long periods of time.
However IUDs especially the Copper ones have biofilm that contain bacteria that can affect the normal flora of the vagina and therefore cause infections such as yeast infection or Bacterial Vaginosis.
Having Bacterial Vaginosis also increases the risk of a woman getting sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and herpes. A woman with BV if left untreated can lead to other possible complications such as Pelvic Inflammatory disease which can cause scars in the reproductive system as it affects the uterus, fallopian tube, ovaries, and cervix.
When this occurs, infertility can occur and it may affect the woman’s ability to conceive a baby!
When a woman contracts BV and exhibits symptoms, she must consult her medical care provider so that she can be prescribed with treatment such as antibiotics. You could also try different natural and home remedies which could help reduce the symptoms.
A woman who is looking for a contraceptive device should consider that Copper IUDs cause or increase the risk of getting BV. Studies that have been done found out that women who have copper IUDs inserted in their uterus are more prone to getting BV.
It is best to consider the hormonal IUDs as they have been found not to cause BV. For women who are not allowed to use hormonal IUDs, they must consider other contraceptive devices.