Do you have bacterial vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis

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It should not be surprising to discover that you have bacterial vaginosis. Some say that up to 75% of all women will have it at one time or another in their lives. So it is important to find out just what it is. Bacterial vaginosis in its simplest form is when the normal bacteria in your vagina go wonky and get out of balance and for a time one or the other strains of bacteria grow stronger.

So the first thing you should see that in most cases having bacterial vaginosis is not dangerous, however if you are a woman that has symptoms then it can be most annoying and bothersome. It should not need to be said but any woman who feels her body is in some way out of balance or control should go see their doctor and get evaluated.

Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis
Some women have no symptoms at all and medically speaking there is usually only two symptoms to consider; vaginal odor and discharge.

It is hard to define abnormal as in women there normal is what their body is and only they can know if it abnormal for them. All women will be different. So if you are having something different going on in your vagina than you are used to then you should seek medical evaluation.

  • Vaginal odor- Most women will have no odor, some will complain of a fishy type of smell
  • Vaginal discharge – usually noticed on your panties or after sexual relations, it is described as being grayish white or heavily clear fluid
  • Vaginal itching and burning-These two things do not need to be present to have vaginosis but you should have it checked out if you have these two as they can mean other problems

Bacterial vaginosis causes
None really know what the exact cause of vaginosis is. The only thing that they all seem to agree on is that bacterial vaginosis is the out of balance accumulation of present bacteria. Generally this means to the medical field that there is too little lactobacilli and too much Gardnerella. They are busy looking for clues to why these bacteria lose their balance.

Certain risk factors have been recognized:

  • Cigarette smoking
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Douching and cleaning the vagina to excess
  • New sexual partner
  • Intrauterine device (IUD)

Going to the Doctor
Ok, you have a vaginal discharge and think maybe an odor and you make an appointment to see your doctor, what can you expect?

  • You will be asked to describe your problem – Don’t be shy, tell it like it is, it is not something he or she as never heard before.
  • Pelvic Exam – This is uncomfortable and most likely embarrassing to some but again remember that this is what the doctor learned to do and it is not new to them.
  • They will exam you visually – They are looking for signs of redness, swelling or discharge.
  • They may even breathe in your scent (yes I had a doctor once tell me, no Ma’am I don’t smell anything fishy at all).
  • They will exam you internally – They will use something called a speculum inserted into your vagina so they may see the walls and your cervix. They are looking for anything that is abnormal
  • They will take vaginal secretion samples -They will use a cotton swab to take samples of what discharge there is so they can identify the problem by looking at it under a microscope. If they have concerns they may take cultures to send to the laboratory to see if anything bad grows.
  • They also may do a test they refer to as the whiff test. Simply put they add one drop of a solution to a smear of your vaginal secretion and if the smell returned is fishy they know at least that you have bacterial vaginosis.

So now you know a bit more about bacterial vaginosis and in further articles we shall look into the problems and treatment of it.


Filed under: Women's Issues

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