Pregnancy is considered as one of the life-changing events in a woman’s life. A pregnant woman’s body experiences changes, such as hormones, and when this occurs there are possible effects that can happen. The woman’s normal vaginal flora usually contains both good and bad bacteria and the good bacteria is more, it helps maintain the acidity of the vaginal pH and it helps control the bad bacteria from increasing. Once the vaginal environment experience changes, the normal flora can also be affected and once there is an imbalance of the good and bad bacteria, Bacterial Vaginosis can occur.
When a woman is pregnant there are certain changes in her body and due to the increase of certain hormones, there is a possibility that she can be prone or at risk to some infections. Since BV is a common infection to women, a pregnant woman can get BV during early pregnancy.
During prenatal care, a pregnant woman who does not have symptoms of infection will not be necessarily screened for BV. It is important to discuss any problems or concerns regarding BV with the medical care provider.
Is BV a sign of early pregnancy? This article will focus on the early pregnancy signs and if Bacterial Vaginosis is one of them.
Early Signs Of Pregnancy – There are early signs of pregnancy and here are some of them:
- Missed period
- Breast changes/soreness
- Increased urination
- Dizziness and fatigue
- Bloating, heartburn, and constipation
- Nasal Congestion
- Different food cravings
- Mood changes
- Increased vaginal discharge
- Brittle nails
- Increased sense of smell
Pregnancy is usually diagnosed in different ways and here are the following:
- Using a pregnancy test – You can buy one at the pharmacy. This measures the levels of a specific hormone HCG; it is produced when a fertilised egg is implanted. The early pregnancy symptoms usually occur when there are other conditions present and it is important for a suspecting woman to go to her medical care provider to have her checked and properly diagnosed.
- Laboratory tests – Blood and urine test can be done to check for the presence of HCG or human chorionic gonadotropin. These are rare conditions that can cause high levels of HCG. If the blood and urine tests have positive results there are other methods done to confirm a woman’s pregnancy.
- Ultrasound – The doctor can check the image of the fetus and the reproductive system by using sound waves and a scanner. This method is commonly used to diagnose and confirm pregnancy. There are instances that a vaginal ultrasound is used instead, this method helps visualise the embryo inside the woman’s womb.
- Doppler Ultrasound – This procedure helps to check the heartbeat of the fetus and it can be done after 10 weeks of pregnancy.
Symptoms Of Bacterial Vaginosis
When a woman has bacterial vaginosis there are times that the symptoms will not be evident. Here are the different symptoms for bacterial vaginosis that you must watch out for:
- Thin, greyish white vaginal discharge
- Foul odour (unpleasant fishy smell), more evident after sexual intercourse
- Painful and itchy vagina
- Painful and burning sensation when urinating
- Vaginal bleeding after sexual intercourse
- Vaginal redness and swelling
What causes BV?
Bacterial Vaginosis is a mild infection of the vagina and it is not considered an STD. This infection occurs when the healthy good bacteria such as Lactobacilli is depleted. This allows the bad anaerobic bacteria, to predominate and cause infection.
The imbalance in the vaginal ecosystem can be caused by changes in the vaginal pH or problems with the immune system and if this occurs the body will not be able to control the bacterial growth. Unprotected sex can also cause infection when there are new microbes introduced in the vagina.
BV is usually common to women in their reproductive age, ranging from 15 to 45. Usually, African-American women have a higher tendency to get BV than other races.
Here are some of the common causes of Bacterial Vaginosis:
- Unprotected sex
- New Sex partners
- Sharing of sex toys
- Alcohol and smoking
- Using of Intrauterine devices
How is BV Diagnosed?
Bacterial Vaginosis can be properly diagnosed by doing the following:
- Whiff Test – Mixing the vaginal discharge with hydrogen peroxide
- pH Test – To check if the pH of the Vagina is higher than pH 4.5
- Physical exam of the pelvis – To check the evidence and presence of infection
- Laboratory tests – Microscopic exam of the vaginal discharge. This will allow the doctor to know which bacteria caused the infection
How is BV Prevented?
- Avoid multiple sex partners
- Use condoms – It is advisable to avoid having sex while being treated for the infection.
- Avoid vaginal douching and using of scented feminine wipes
- Wear clean cotton underwear – Spandex cannot absorb moisture and this can allow the proliferation and breeding ground for bad bacteria
- Proper hygiene – Avoid baths, do not use soap when washing the genital area. Wipe from front to back to avoid the contamination of the vagina.
What are the complications that may arise from Bacterial Vaginosis?
When a pregnant woman gets BV, it can also affect her pregnancy as well as the baby inside the womb. Symptoms that are not treated can increase the chance of complications.
These complications are:
- Premature labour – The bacteria can cause premature labour and birth
- Miscarriage – The presence of bacteria can affect the proper development of the embryo inside the womb
- Infection of the uterus after giving birth – The bacteria in the vagina can also infect the other reproductive organs, Pelvic Inflammatory disease can also happen.
- Low birth weight of the baby
- Premature rupture of the membranes causing early labour and birth
- BV can also cause a woman to experience difficulty to get pregnant or infertility
If a pregnant woman has had previous premature labour and birth in her first pregnancy, she is prone and has a higher risk of getting BV in her next pregnancy. When she is diagnosed and properly treated, it helps reduce the risk of having another early delivery and birth. BV and pregnancy complications are not completely clear but as we all know prevention is better than cure.
If a woman gets BV she is more prone and susceptible to STIs or sexually transmitted infections like HIV, gonorrhoea, and chlamydia. If a pregnant woman already has HIV, having BV makes the baby more prone to HIV from his or her mother. It is quite important to undergo screening and get the necessary treatment.
What are the treatments used for BV?
Bacterial Vaginosis is a mild infection in the vagina and it can be treated by antibiotics prescribed by the medical care provider.
First Line defence:
- Metronidazole 500 mg taken via mouth 2x a day for 7 days
- Metronizadole 0.75% vaginal gel, applied in the vagina 1x a day for 5 days
- Clindamycin 2.0 % vaginal cream, applied in the vagina during bedtime for 7 days
There are other alternative treatments used by medical care providers such as Clindamycin suppository for the vagina or Tinidazole tablets. Antibiotics are effective for treating the symptoms however, there are times that the infection can recur after several months. Sometimes additional or multiple treatments are advised to control the infection and prevent possible complications from it. There are some side effects:
- Sore Throat
- Runny Nose
- Stomach ache
- Metallic taste in the mouth
Usually, when a pregnant woman is diagnosed with BV, the medical care provider can also advise her to take home remedies that can help deal with the symptoms. Some of them are probiotics, take yogurt daily to help deal with the symptoms. There are instances that the infection subsides on its own but if a woman is pregnant it is hard to just leave the infection and not deal with it. Complications may arise and it may affect the woman’s health as well as her baby.
When taking a probiotics supplement, it is advised to take it 2 hours before or after taking the antibiotics. It is not done simultaneously.
The woman’s body usually undergoes a lot of changes once she gets pregnant. There are times the pH changes and due to that occurrence, the bad bacteria or the anaerobes will overpower the good bacteria or Lactobacilli. When this happens, Bacterial Vaginosis can occur. The pregnant woman is at risk of different infections during her early pregnancy.
It is important to be aware of the symptoms of BV so you can inform your medical care provider about it as soon as possible. You can prevent any complications from happening especially if BV is left untreated and it can harm to the baby and affect the proper development of the fetus in the womb. BV can also affect the pregnant woman and predispose her to some risks that can affect her overall health.
Pregnant women can safely treat their condition by using natural home remedies and if the doctor prescribes medication usually antibiotics, it is important for her to take the complete dose even after the symptoms have already subsided. Bacterial Vaginosis has not been determined an early sign of pregnancy, but usually when a woman is pregnant she is more prone to get infections and since Bacterial Vaginosis is a common infection in the vagina, a pregnant woman can get BV anytime during her pregnancy.