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  • Makati At May Amoy? Everything You Need To Know About Bacterial Vaginosis

    It's more common than you think!
    by Dahl D. Bennett .
Makati At May Amoy? Everything You Need To Know About Bacterial Vaginosis
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  • As many of 50% of women of childbearing age get bacterial vaginosis (BV) at least once.

    But let's get one thing out of the way: no, bacterial vaginosis is not another sexually transmitted disease, but it can increase the risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections. 

    "Bacterial vaginosis is when the vagina has malodorous white to gray discharge due to the imbalance of bacterial flora that leans more towards the anaerobic group (bacteria that don't live or grow when oxygen is present)," explains Dr. Ame Lopez, a medical specialist II and the infectious diseases (ID) specialist consultant of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Region II Trauma and Medical Center.

    "A normal vaginal flora has predominance of hydrogen-producing (pH) Lactobacilli sp. over the anaerobes."

    She adds that once that vaginal pH level (usually 4.5) goes above the normal, it will be hard to prevent the colonization of pathogenic anaerobic bacteria which causes BV.

    How do you get bacterial vaginosis?

    There are several ways of getting BV and you don't necessarily need to be sexually active to get one. "Menstrual flow itself is identified as a risk factor of BV," says Dr Lopez.

    But there are many other factors that may put one at risk of getting one, adds Dr. Lopez enumerating the following:

    • smoking
    • chronic stress
    • abnormal menses (i.e. absence, less and more frequent menses or increased amount of blood during menses)
    • douching
    • use of hormonal contraception and intrauterine device and black ethnicity (regardless of geographical distribution)
    • antibiotic use (local or systemic)
    • inconsistent condom use
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    Citing researches, she says that women who are at higher risk of getting BV are those who have new or higher number of recent and lifetime sexual partners, and women who report same-sex contact.

    What are the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis?

    Women should observe any changes in character of vaginal discharge. "This can mean an increase in the amount of the discharge; presence of or increase in its odor; and a change in the color of the discharge. Also notice if there is a persistence in the discharge for days or weeks beyond the menstrual period and is associated with vaginal spotting," says Dr. Lopez.

    Other associated symptoms include: 

    • vulvar itchiness
    • burning sensation from the vagina to the vulva
    • vulvar and/or pelvic pain
    • dysuria or pain and discomfort when urinating

    Be wary as well of the presence of lesions, papules (elevation in the skin), or ulcers, among others.

    Can pregnant women get bacterial vaginosis?

    Yes, getting BV while pregnant is possible. "Once a pregnant woman notes presence of symptoms and a change in the character of vaginal discharge, she must consult her OB-gyne," advises Dr. Lopez.

    She warns that the presence of bacterial vaginosis has been associated with increased risk of preterm birth, acquiring sexually transmitted infection, and even unfavorable early pregnancy outcomes.

    As grim as it may sound, the good news is BV is treatable but it is possible too that it may come back.

    "Bacterial vaginosis immediately responds to adequate antibiotic treatment," assured Dr. Lopez. However, BV may recur in 20% to 75% of women within three months, especially for those who are using antibiotics and those with sexually transmitted infections (like HIV).

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    Can bacterial vaginosis get better on its own?

    "In some cases, BV may resolve spontaneously particularly for the new onset BVs and the ones presenting mild symptoms," says Dr. Lopez. In 50% of cases where a woman is otherwise asymptomatic, such does not warrant intervention or treatment, she adds.

    The patient can be assured that BV will go away on its own, unless the discharge is bothersome to her the she can be given treatment.

    How to avoid bacterial vaginosis?

    Vaginal hygiene is important but as it turns out, some practices can be the culprit in further disrupting that natural pH balance down there. Dr. Lopez gives these tips to keep BV at bay:

    • avoid douching
    • avoid using medicated or antiseptic feminine wash 
    • use mild soap and warm water as a regular feminine wash
    • practice proper sexual hygiene
    • consult a gynecologist for any change in your menstrual flow
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