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Bacterial vaginosis: Causes, symptoms and prevention

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When excessive growth of bacteria occurs in the vagina, there are chances that you have bacterial vaginosis (BV) disease, which is also known as vaginal bacteriosis or gardnerella vaginitis. The symptoms include increased vaginal discharge usually white or gray in color that often smells odd. Burning with urination may occur.


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Bacterial vaginosis can cause disturbing symptoms, but it is not medically dangerous. On many occasions, most women do not even experience symptoms of bacterial vaginosis.

In the time of diagnosing bacterial vaginosis, it is important to exclude other complicated vaginal infections like Gonorrhea, Chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases. While treating bacterial vaginosis, doctors generally prescribe oral antibiotics and some vaginal gels. But here is a warning: Serious complications of the disease can occur during pregnancy. The recurrence of the same is possible even after successful treatment.


Take a note of the following symptoms of bacterial vaginosis:  

1. Vaginal discharge

2. Abnormal vaginal odor

3. Abnormal vaginal fluid

4. Vaginal pain

5. Cloudy, bloody, white, yellow or green vaginal discharge, or burning sensation

Factors Responsible

Bacterial vaginosis is a common condition in women of childbearing age across the world. What causes bacterial vaginosis is yet to be determined by researchers. But the following factors have been identified that increase the chances of bacterial vaginosis:

1. Multiple sexual partners

2. Intrauterine devices for birth control

3. Antibiotic use

4. Vaginal douching

5. Cigarette smoking

There is a possibility that bacterial vaginosis can spread between female sexual partners instead of male sexual partners. Pregnant women with symptoms of bacterial vaginosis should be treated as this may decrease the risk of premature delivery.


Bacterial vaginosis, if it is untreated, can lead to:

1. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

2. Pregnancy complications

3. Greater risk of other sexually transmitted infection like HIV, gonorrhoea and chlamydia

4. Increased risk of infection

Take your medicines as per doctor's advice and don't discontinue treatment in the middle even if your symptoms go away. Stopping treatment in the middle may increase the likelihood of recurrence.


Your doctor may prescribe one of the following medications to treat bacterial vaginosis:

1.Metronidazole (Flagyl, Metrogel-Vaginal, others): This medicine may be taken orally.

2.Clindamycin (Cleocin, Clindesse, others): This medicine is available as a cream that you insert into your vagina.

3.Tinidazole (Tindamax): This medication is taken orally.

Preventive Measures

You must follow the below mentioned preventive measures:

Good hygiene is a must for keeping bacterial vaginosis at bay. Wash the anus and the vagina every day. Wear cotton underwear and pants that allow air flow and prevent moist conditions in the vagina.

Use mild, non-deodorant soaps and unscented tampons or pads for vaginal use.

Don’t douche much. Douching destroys normal organisms that reside in the vagina, which are actually good for your vaginal health.

Limit your number of sex partners because multiple partners increase your chances of getting infected.

Be sure you and your partner are tested for sexually transmitted infections. There is no shame in talking about it. Good sex should be safe sex. Be faithful to each other.

Drinking too much alcohol also puts you at risk of sexual assault and possible exposure to sexually transmitted infections.

If your female partner has bacterial vaginosis, use a dental dam when you have sex. Cover sex toys with condoms before use with an infected partner. It will protect you from getting infected.

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