What is Bacterial Vaginosis? Know its Causes and Symptoms
Bacterial vaginosis is a type of vaginal infection caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina. This condition is also known as Gardnerella vaginitis and is caused by Gardnerella bacteria. This bacteria is responsible for causing vaginal infections. However, many species of bacteria live naturally in the vagina and their overgrowth or imbalance can lead to an infection called bacterial vaginosis (BV), which results in vaginal discharge. This infection is mostly found in pregnant women. Often, this infection is caused by having sexual intercourse with a new partner.
Bacterial vaginosis is not considered a sexually transmitted infection because it occurs even in women or girls who have never had sexual intercourse. Sexually transmitted infections are those infections that are transmitted through sexual activity.
Causes of Bacterial Vaginosis
Bacterial vaginosis is caused by an imbalance of the bacterial flora naturally found in the vagina. This is a common bacteria found in a woman's vagina. Bacterial vaginosis can also be caused by other reasons, such as
- Using water or a medicated solution to clean the vagina
- Taking a bath with antiseptic fluids
- Having sexual intercourse with someone new
- Having intercourse with multiple partners
- Using a perfumed bubble bath, vaginal deodorant, or scented soaps.
- Washing the undergarments with harsh detergent
Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis
The symptoms of bacterial vaginosis are as follows-
Most women who are infected with bacterial vaginosis do not show any symptoms. Some women may experience some symptoms, which include vaginal discharge, burning, itching, etc. Vaginal discharge may be thin, gray in color or white and foul-smelling and sometimes a burning sensation during urination and itching around the vagina may also be experienced.
Prevention Methods for Bacterial Vaginosis
The following are the measures to prevent bacterial vaginosis-
- Always practice safe sexual intercourse using a condom.
- The use of chemical soaps in the vagina can kill normal or good bacteria, which increases the risk of infection. So avoid using it.
- Use only lukewarm water to clean the vagina.
- Bacterial vaginosis can cause many problems in pregnancy, it is therefore essential to keep the private parts clean in order to keep infections away, keeping mother and child healthy.
Treatment methods for bacterial vaginosis
Antibiotics are effective in 90 percent of infections, but bacterial vaginosis recurs after a few weeks. Bacterial vaginosis often goes away without treatment, but if you are experiencing symptoms, you should seek treatment to avoid complications. Men don't need treatment, but they can transfer the infection to women during intercourse. Some doctors suggest that bacterial vaginosis surgery should be performed before surgery for abortion or hysterectomy, whether or not symptoms are present.
Metronidazole is the most commonly used antibiotic for bacterial vaginosis. If a woman is pregnant or lactating, taking metronidazole twice a day for seven days provides relief from bacterial vaginosis. A normal woman should take metronidazole once a day for seven days during this infection. Metronidazole, available as a gel, should be applied regularly to the vaginal area once a day for five days. However, it should be taken only after taking advice from a doctor.
Home remedies for bacterial vaginosis
Here are some home remedies to help overcome the problem of bacterial vaginosis-
- Apple cider vinegar-Apple cider vinegar is a great home remedy for bacterial vaginosis. Due to its acidic nature, apple cider vinegar helps to increase vaginal acidity. This makes it difficult for harmful bacteria to survive and creates a better environment for good bacteria to thrive. To avoid bacterial vaginosis, add one or two cups of apple cider vinegar to your bath water. Then sit in this water for 20 minutes. After this, dry the vaginal area thoroughly. Do this remedy once a day till the condition improves.
- Curd-Curd is one of the most common home remedies for bacterial vaginosis. Curd contains beneficial bacteria called Lactobacillus. This helps fight harmful bacteria and maintain a healthy vaginal pH balance. Soak a cotton pad in curd and apply it to the affected area, leaving it for at least half an hour. Then wash this part thoroughly with fresh water. Repeat this remedy thrice a day until its symptoms are gone. Apart from this, eat at least two small cups of curd a day to keep the pH balance of the vagina normal and reduce the growth of bad bacteria.
- Tea tree oil-Tea tree oil has natural antibacterial as well as antifungal properties that help kill the bacteria that cause bacterial vaginosis. Apart from this, it is also helpful in removing foul vaginal odor. To do this, mix two tablespoons of tea tree oil in a small bowl of warm water. Then wash the vagina thoroughly with this mixture. Continue this for three to four weeks.
- Garlic-Garlic, being a natural antibiotic, helps in treating bacterial vaginosis. Apart from this, the antifungal properties present in it keep the bad bacteria in check. Crush three to four garlic cloves and apply them to the affected area. Leave it for about 20 minutes and then wash that area thoroughly with lukewarm water. Do this remedy for several months. Apart from this, consuming garlic regularly, either raw or cooked, is also beneficial.
- Fenugreek-Fenugreek is very beneficial for the treatment of bacterial vaginosis. It boosts the immune system to improve the pH level in the vagina and accelerate the healing process. Soak two tablespoons of fenugreek in a glass of water overnight. In the morning, drink this water on an empty stomach. Follow this remedy for at least a month. Or mix one teaspoon of fenugreek powder in a cup of curd and take it twice a day until the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis subside.
- Milk-The presence of bacteria called lactobacilli in milk is an excellent natural remedy for bacterial vaginosis. In addition, milk helps strengthen the immune system. In the event of infection, dip a piece of cotton in cold milk and apply it to the vagina. Remove the cotton after keeping it for one to two hours. Do this remedy once a day for several days to get relief from symptoms. Alternatively, mix a teaspoon of turmeric powder into a glass of warm milk.
- Coconut oil-Coconut oil has natural antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties that help kill bacteria and prevent their recurrence. To improve your problem, apply organic coconut oil to the affected area three times a day or soak cotton in organic coconut oil and place it in the vagina. After a few hours, wash the vagina thoroughly with lukewarm water. Also, to boost your immune system and speed up the healing process, use coconut oil in cooking as much as possible.
When to go to the doctor?
Bacterial vaginosis is usually not serious and often goes away on its own. But in case you experience symptoms going worse, consult your doctor and treatment should start immediately.