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Dyslexia Awareness

Risks Associated with Bacterial Vaginosis

What is bacterial vaginosis?

People having an active sex life should be aware of the risk of catching several sexually transmitted infections, and take the proper precautions in order to protect themselves and their partners from all the germs and fungi that are on the loose between our sheets. Some infections are better known, such as HIV/AIDS and herpes, while others might not get as much press. Recently, infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea have been on the spotlight because of sharp increases in reported cases, but we should learn about all of them and how to have sex responsibly.

Bacterial vaginosis might not be one of the most widely known sexually transmitted diseases, and perhaps one of the reasons is that we are not completely sure of its cause. It can be passed on between female sexual partners, but the reason why it occurs in the first place is yet to be determined.

Bacterial vaginosis isn't really an infection, but more like a loss of balance between the different types of bacteria that naturally coexist inside the vagina. Normally, a large amount of bacteria called lactobacilli live in the vagina along with small colonies of anaerobic bacteria. Once that balance is disturbed and lactobacilli can no longer hold back anaerobic colonies, bacterial vaginosis occurs.

Most cases of BV have no symptoms. The most characteristic symptom of BV is a characteristic discharge, often greyish - and sometimes foamy - with a strong fishy odor that becomes even stronger after sex or during menstruation.

Risks associated with bacterial vaginosis

The colonies of lactobacilli that live in the vagina have a beneficial effect on health. They keep the PH low, which is a barrier against some infections, and contribute to the overall functioning of the reproductive system. Bacterial vaginosis is an alteration of these bacteria, and there are some bad consequences and increased risks associated with it.

First of all,since it alters the vagina's PH, which as you know is a natural defense against infections, bacterial vaginosis increases the person's vulnerability to certain STIs, including herpes, HIV and chlamydia. Since Bacterial Vaginosis raises HIV risk, women who have an active sexual life should get tested immediately if they suspect they have the condition. We'll discuss BV testing, diagnosis and treatment in a moment.

Bacterial vaginosis is also very worthy of consideration in case of pregnancy. Pregnant women who have BV have an increased risk of a premature delivery and/or a low weight baby. 

Last but not least, in some cases bacterial vaginosis can trigger pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a dangerous infection of the female reproductory system. PID can be treated, but if not, it may cause inner scarring of the organs, leading to chronic abdominal pain, miscarriages, infertility and/or ectopic pregnancies. In the worst of scenarios, the infection may spread to the rest of the body causing sepsis, a potentially deadly condition.

Testing, diagnosing and treating bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis can be detected with a vaginal swab. A sample is collected and examined under a microscope. A pelvic examination can also reveal the presence of the condition. Testing the discharge is another option for detecting BV.

If you suspect you may have bacterial vaginosis, we suggest that you get tested, for all the associated risks described above. If you don't have the time or don't feel comfortable going to a doctor or hospital, you can ask for the home version of the test. Few people know that a bacterial vaginosis test can be arranged online, with the test kit delivered to your home and then returned in a prepaid envelope. The test is a simple vaginal swab that you can take by yourself. You collect the sample, send it back and then get the confidential results in your phone or by logging in to the company's website.

If bacterial vaginosis is detected, your doctor will advise you on what to do. As a matter of fact, treating bacterial vaginosis is very easy, and it's done through antibiotics. They fight off the anaerobic bacteria in the vagina and help restore the lost balance. Your doctor should tell you which pill to take and you should follow the instructions closely. Remember that with all antibiotics you must take all doses as indicated, even if the symptoms go away, or the condition will come back. Also, note that bacterial vaginosis often recurs, so if you have tested possitive we suggest that you take the test again after a few months, especially if you have symptoms.

There is an alternte diet therapy that can help fight BV too, by ingesting yogurth and other food that have lactobacilli in it. However, the effectiveness of this therapy is yet to be explored.

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Dyslexia Awareness, 283 Mare Street, Hackney, London, E8 1PJ.

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