Bacterial vaginosis - also known as BV or gardnerella vaginitis - is somewhat under the radar, especially in comparison to other infections such as thrush. In fact, it is the most common type of bacterial vaginal infection in the UK. If left untreated, it may increase the risk of developing a uteral infection or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and may increase the risk of contracting other STIs.
BV is cured with prescription antibiotics, but you may have recurrent bouts in the future. For further information on bacterial vaginosis you can read below, or complete a free consultation which is reviewed by one of our doctors.
The vagina has a delicate balance of bacteria that are harmless, however when the balance of any of the bacteria is altered (whether increased or decreased it can lead to bacterial vaginosis. As the infection is not dangerous, certain women may not experience noticeable symptoms and in time the BV infection will go away by itself. In most instances though, there are uncomfortable symptoms which require targeted treatment to help restore the natural balance in the vaginal.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common infection that produces discharge in the UK with 100,000 fresh cases each year at GUM clinics alone. Whilst the exact causes are still unknown, there are certain triggers you can avoid, and effective treatment you can use.
Although the condition is not serious for the vast majority of women, it is important to report any symptoms that may indicate the presence of BV, as evidence suggests it can have an adverse effect and could cause certain complications if you are pregnant (e.g. premature birth, miscarraige or chorioamnionitis).
BV is not classified as an STI, as women who are not sexually active can still have the infection. It is however more likely to occur in women who are sexually active or who have multiple partners, as there is a greater chance of a bacterial imbalance. It is best to stay protected at all times and use a condom if you are sexually active and to take an STI test if you think you may have bacterial vaginosis. Although a man cannot be infected with BV, unprotected sex may increase the chance of STI's such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea for both male or female.
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The medical cause of bacterial vaginosis is the natural balance of bacteria in your vagina altering. The vagina is always slightly acidic to keep it clean and healthy, this is because of the bacteria - lactobacilli. When lactobacillus is lagging, this allows other more harmful bacteria to flourish, causing the unpleasant symptoms of BV.
There is no precise cause of bacterial vaginosis and these signs can differ from one woman to the next so it is advised to keep a note when the infection exposes itself and what factors have differed to prompt a change. Whilst it is not 100% confirmed, there is research to show that the following could be linked to BV:
About half of women with BV don't have any symptoms at all. Unlike other vaginal infections, itching and soreness don't usually accompany BV so it is unlikely you will need a cream to soothe any discomfort. However if you are experiencing anything unusual, the main sign of an infection is an unusual vagina discharge. This can be unclear, as most of a woman's discharge is completely normal, however there are some signs it could be something else. In this case, BV infections will have the following symptoms:
These symptoms may coincide with other factors, such as itching, burning sensation when urinating and irregular bleeding.
If not treated in time, BV can cause PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) which produces pain and discomfort around the pelvic area, swelling in the genital tract and bleeding between periods. This would also need to be treated effectively with a course of antibiotics.
Before aiming to treat the problem, it is important to accurately diagnosed first by a doctor or at a health clinic. To diagnose this infection the doctor may:
Metronidazole is the most recognisable form of treatment for bacterial vaginosis according to the NHS, and a medication we offer here at HealthExpress. The antibiotic is available in different forms, most commonly as a tablet to be taken twice a day. As with all antibiotic, you must take the full course regardless of whether you are feeling better part, half or mostly the way through. It is also available as one singular tablet of a higher dosage or as a gel applied once a day. A course of antibiotics are generally preferred as side effects are increased with the higher dose tablet and gels are more difficult to apply correctly.
Bacterial vaginosis in pregnancy can still be treated with metronidazole tablets, however when breastfeeding, the active ingredients can affect breast milk so the gel will most likely be recommended in this instance. There are currently no proven natural cures or home remedies for bacterial vaginosis.
BV prevention is very similar to avoiding thrush, and is linked to the possible causes. For example, practising personal hygiene (detailed below) and quitting smoking could help. Once you have had bacterial vaginosis once, recurrent bouts are not surprising so making a mental or physical note of what changes have incited symptoms and minimising these risk factors can help:
Wearing natural clothing – Loose cotton underwear may help not only prevent BV but speed up recovery during an outbreak
Natural products – Only use gentle products to clean your genitalia. Many vaginal specific brands still include ingredients that can aggravate the vagina. This includes any washing detergent you may use on your laundry
Limited cleaning - Remember, the vagina cleans itself so you shouldn't have a specific vagina-cleaning regime at all. When you have BV, it may be easy to think that cleaning will help the smell, however in reality it could be making it worse. Cleaning just once a day, tops, is all your vagina needs
No douching - Steer clear of douching completely. You shouldn't be cleaning inside your vagina, especially pushing water
Quit smoking – It's easier said than done, but once you quit smoking, your BV may go completely, as well as you reaping may other benefits
Practice safe sex – Some research has shown that using condoms can reduce the number of bouts, as well as keeping sexual activity to one partner
Good hygiene – As well as limited cleaning and no douching, wiping from front to back after using the toilet can help
The above bullet points designed like the below:
To order Metronidazole, you can start a consultation below. This process allows one of our registered doctors to assess and ensure you are safe to use this antibiotic. We do recommend that you only request a treatment only after you have been diagnosed by your doctor, or if you require a repeat prescription. If approved, you can take advantage of our fast delivery service, with your BV treatment delivered the same day in London or next day across the rest of the UK (when ordered before 4pm).
Bacterial vaginosis is a common vaginal infection that can develop as a result of sexual intercourse. It mainly affects women and doesn't always cause symptoms.