Bacterial Vaginosis–Do You Have It?

February 26, 2009 by  
Filed under Bacterial Vaginosis

What is Bacterial Vaginosis?

Bacterial Vaginosis is a bacterial infection in a woman’s vagina. This infection is normally just a mild infection that goes away after a few days without any medication needed. Most women do not know that they have bacterial vaginosis until they go visit their gynecologists for a check-up. So how does a woman find out if she has bacterial vaginosis?

A woman’s vagina has both good and bad bacteria inhabiting it. Bacterial vaginosis happens when there are more bad bacteria rather than good ones. No one really knows how a bacterial imbalance happens in a woman’s vagina but a woman is prone to getting this type of infection if:

• she has more than one sex partner
• she is using an Intra-Uterine Device (IUD)
• she has a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD)
• she has a female sex partner
• she douches

A woman’s vagina naturally produces some discharges. This is nothing to worry about especially since this happens on a regular basis, especially if she is about to have her monthly period. If the discharges smell funny or “fishy” and the color is grayish, yellowish or white, one should go to the doctor to check if she has an infection.

Doctors find out if one has bacterial vaginosis through a pelvic examination and takes a sample of the discharge found in the woman’s vagina. The doctor also takes note of the appearance of the vaginal lining and her cervix. If the woman’s cervix is tender, this might be an indication of a more serious infection such as Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD’s). To make sure, the doctor may collect samples to check if the patient has Chlamydia or Gonorrhea.

In the laboratory, the sample is checked under a microscope and is checked if there are clue cells present. Clue Cells is almost a sure indicator that the woman has bacterial vaginosis. The pH balance of the woman’s discharge is also checked. If it is higher than 4.5, then the woman is more likely to have bacterial vaginosis.

Another test that the doctor may require from a patient is the “whiff test” using potassium hydroxide liquid (KOF). In this test, a drop of KOF is placed on the sample acquired by the doctor. If a fishy odor results, then the woman may have bacterial vaginosis.

Since some women have no idea of they have bacterial vaginosis, they should go to their gynecologists for a check up just to be sure. The sooner one finds out about it the better. If left untreated, and especially if the woman is pregnant, bacterial vaginosis may cause pregnancy complications such as premature labor, infection of the amniotic fluid and also premature birth.

Once diagnosed, doctors usually ask the woman to take some antibiotics to kill the bacteria causing the infection. Once done with the medication, the woman has to go back to her doctor to see if there are improvements in her case and make sure that she does not contract the disease again.