For many women, sudden unexpected symptoms like vaginal itching can be an indicator of a vaginal infection. While it’s understandable to think you may be dealing with a yeast infection, it is even more likely that you are experiencing bacterial vaginosis. Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is an infection of the vagina that results from an imbalance of bacteria in the vagina. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it affects nearly 30% of women between the ages of 15 to 44. But what exactly causes BV and what warning signs should women look out for? Our board-certified gynecologists are here to answer those questions.
Bacterial vaginosis occurs when there is an overgrowth of the bacteria that causes an imbalance of the yeast and bacteria present in the vagina. The infection can cause the lining of the vagina to become inflamed. Factors that can affect this balance and cause BV include the use of certain antibiotics or hygiene products like douches or fragranced soaps. These soaps can strip away some of the natural vaginal bacteria and impact the balance of your vagina. In some cases, BV can result from hormone changes associated with pregnancy, breastfeeding, or menopause. The infection can also be passed between sexual partners, especially when both partners are women.
Although in many cases, bacterial vaginosis can exist without any noticeable symptoms, there are some warning signs we recommend looking out for. BV often comes with a thin vaginal discharge that is white or gray in color. It may have a fishy or sour odor, especially after sex. Other common symptoms include a burning sensation during urination, vaginal itching, and vaginal irritation.
Treatment for bacterial vaginosis will depend on the cause of your infection. After discussing your symptoms and running a few diagnostic tests to confirm the diagnosis, our board-certified gynecologists may prescribe either a pill that is taken orally or a topical cream which can be inserted into the vagina (or both). A course of treatment for BV typically lasts between one and seven days. In some cases, we may recommend treatment for your sexual partner as well.
The symptoms of BV can be similar to yeast infections, so it’s important to visit your board-certified gynecologist in order to receive a proper diagnosis. Although bacterial vaginosis may not present a serious concern to your overall health, it’s important to treat it quickly and relieve any troublesome symptoms that may be causing you distress. For more information or to request your appointment with board-certified gynecologist Dr. Kristine Gould, please contact Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett today. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for additional tips, news, and more.