Bacterial vaginosis is an ailment that afflicts at least 29% of women in America. If you detect anything unusual about your vagina such as a fishy smell or a discharge with an unusual appearance, chances are it may be bacterial vaginosis. This may be problematic as it is a disease that normally doesn’t have any symptoms. A lot of women also report not feeling anything after being diagnosed with this illness. Although BV may seem to be an innocuous disease, it has grave complications if left untreated. Some complications of BV include:
- Preterm birth – women who have bacterial vaginosis while pregnant have the risk of having babies with low birth weight as well as their water breaking too early, which causes preterm birth
- Loss of pregnancy or miscarriage – women with bacterial vaginosis are also at a greater risk of losing their fetus or miscarriage
- Pelvic Inflammatory disease – this includes inflammation of the entire reproductive system in women and may cause infertility
- Increases the risk of sexually transmitted disease- women diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis are at a greater risk of getting sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and herpes.
- Infection risk after surgery- if a woman has bacterial vaginosis, she has a greater chance of getting an infection after getting surgery. These surgeries include hysterectomy, c-section, or abortion.
What is Bacterial Vaginosis?
Bacterial vaginosis is an infection in the vagina, and it often happens if there is an imbalance in bacteria within the vagina’s ecosystem. Gardnerella vaginalis, the bacteria that cause vaginosis, may not be exactly harmful but it is this imbalance that causes the harm and the infection to arise.
The pH of the vagina should be maintained at an optimum level with a bacterial vaginosis treatment to keep its health. Habits that disturb natural ph such as douching and cleaning with soaps with strong perfumes can prove harmful and should be avoided. Having multiple partners also increase your chances for BV because the chemistry of your partner’s fluids can interfere with the natural PH of your vagina.
Some symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include:
1. Vaginal discharge that may be white or gray in color
Vaginal discharge, also known as leukorrhea, is normal for women who are of child-bearing age because is the body’s way of getting rid of old cells and fluid. Examining the discharge is also a way of knowing if something is wrong within the body’s system.
Sometimes the appearance of the discharge may change based on the condition of the person. If a woman is exposed to stress, is pregnant, or is nearing her menstrual period, this can alter the appearance and amount of the vaginal discharge. For more serious conditions, the unusual vaginal discharge may be accompanied by vaginal itching or pelvic inflammation. In the case of bacterial vaginosis, the discharge appears as gray in color.
2. Discharge with a strong, foul odor
The vagina has an odor, which is only normal. These change within the menstrual cycle, and if a woman is pregnant, or nearing menopause. Usually, if there is an infection, the odor is accompanied by an itching and burning sensation.
Even though a vaginal odor may seem strong, it is considered normal if there are no other symptoms accompanying it. In the case of bacterial vaginosis, the vaginal odor may seem like a strong fishy smell. It is also accompanied by a vaginal discharge, which is gray in color and has a consistency that is usually thin and watery.
3. Vaginal itching
Vaginal itching is something that is very uncomfortable. It is also called vaginitis and happens when the surrounding area of the vagina becomes inflamed. There may also be accompanying discharge and pain with the itching. One main cause of vaginal itching is the overgrowth of normal bacteria within the vagina. If there is an overgrowth, this usually points to a BV diagnosis.
4. Painful or burning urination
Bacterial vaginosis can also cause abdominal pain in many patients. Pain during urination also happens, and it manifests as a burning sensation. However, BV usually doesn’t have symptoms, and pain as a symptom of BV is a rare occurrence.
It is important to have good health and always be protected. This is why a woman should be aware of the habits she should adopt to keep her body healthy, especially with her sexual organ. The vagina is unlike any other body part in that it doesn’t respond well to traditional cleaning that involves strong chemicals and fragrances. Therefore, keeping the body healthy and nurturing good habits as well as safety in sexual relations ensures that women will enjoy a healthy body and a healthy reproductive system that will keep her empowered.