What is bacterial vaginosis?

WHAT IS BV?
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a condition characterized by abnormal vaginal discharge due to an overgrowth of normal (bad) bacteria. Women with bacterial vaginosis have fewer than usual "good bacteria" known as lactobacilli which are responsible for keeping harmful bacteria at bay (MedicineNet, 2016). It can occur in both pregnant and non-pregnant women. 

This condition is not sexually-transmitted and is not dangerous to non-pregnant women but can make it difficult to conceive. This condition is notorious for causing severe complications related to the reproductive health of women (Turovskiy, Noll & Chikindas, 2011) .

Bacterial vaginosis can be dangerous if a woman is pregnant because it can cause thinning and tearing of tissues protecting the baby, such as the amniotic sac. If left untreated, it can cause preterm water rupture (PPROM), preterm birth, infection to mother and baby, and miscarriage. BV is a silent killer of babies because many women who have BV don't know they have it, or display no distressing symptoms. BV is the most common vaginal infection in women aged 15-44, according to the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta (CDC).
"Roughly 30 percent—close to 1 in 3 women—have BV, but many don’t have a clue." 
-(Denise Mann, MS; 2018)
BV EXPLAINED
Dr. Dawn Harper, GP
"Thrush" is also known as a Yeast Infection.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF BV
Women may display some, or none of these symptoms. It's also common to have only one symptom and none of the others. The only true way to know is to have a doctor swab and run tests to measure vaginal pH. Even these tests can be wrong, because bacteria buildup in colonies deeper towards the cervix, an area missed at times.
A past history of recurrent bladder infections or yeast infections. This is usually a sign that good bacteria levels are normally low.
• Prickling, tingling or burning after urination.

• Dryness, or flaky skin in the vaginal canal.

• Frequent pain during intercourse.

• Strong, fishy odor and discharge from the vagina.

• Skin irritation from excessive moisture or discharge.

• Itching

• Pain/burning similar to UTIs (Urinary Tract Infections), but negative tests for UTI infection.
The presence of BV (imbalance of bacteria) is caused by afflicted gut health and fluctuating hormones. (Turovskiy, Noll & Chikindas, 2011)
FACTORS THAT INCREASE THE RISK OF BV
Any woman can get bacterial vaginosis (BV for short). If the delicate balance between good and bad bacteria levels are disrupted, you can get BV. There factors may increase the risk of BV because they disrupt the balance of VAGINAL pH: 1) Smoking, 2) Sexual Activity, 3) Douching, 4) Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a large contributor to BV because hormone levels change in a woman's body during pregnancy which may change pH balances.
Source: https://www.webmd.com/women/guide/what-is-bacterial-vaginosis#1
15 SHOCKING FACTS ABOUT BV
BV is not contracted or contagious. BV occurs because the woman's body has trouble producing protective antibodies which keep natural bacteria under control. According to Health Research Funding (2012):
1.) The percentage of women who have been found to have BV, but had no reported symptoms: 84%.
2.) 18% of the women who get bacterial vaginosis every year have not had any oral, anal, or vaginal sex in their lifetime
3.) Minority women have a higher risk of developing BV. African American risks are twice that of Caucasian women of European descent.
4.) Having BV can increase a woman’s chance of getting an STD.
5.) Pregnant women with BV may deliver premature or low birth-weight babies.
6.) In the United States, as many as 16% of pregnant women have BV.
7.) It is the most common vaginal infection in women ages 15-44.
8.) It is not possible to get BV from a toilet seat, bedding, or touching objects that are around you. It is not an STD.
9.) BV is a leading cause of pelvic inflammatory disease, which can create an infection that can interfere with a woman’s reproductive system.
10.) The main symptoms of bacterial vaginosis are vaginal discharge and odor.
11.) Treatment options for bacterial vaginosis include oral antibiotics and vaginal gels.
12.) Recurrence of BV is possible, even after successful treatment. It is easier to have BV after an infection has occurred.
13.) BV can compromise genital immunity for STDs. The percentage of women who have an STD and also have BV: 60%.
14.) Studies have shown that approximately 29% of women in the U.S. are affected. 
15.) Women with BV have a signifcantly higher risk of getting HIV from infected partners (ClinicalTrials.gov, 2017)
Source: https://healthresearchfunding.org/20-incredible-bacterial-vaginosis-statistics/
TREATMENTS
BV is easily treatable and corrected. Typically a course of antibiotics given orally or vaginally will clear up BV within a couple of days. Other tests, such as pH balance of the vagina may detect high levels of "bad" bacteria. However, since BV is caused by the body having trouble producing good bacteria, it is possible BV can return in a few months. Women who have been diagnosed with BV should remain vigilant for reoccurring symptoms. If you believe you have BV, but tests come back negative, always seek a second opinion and ask for tests deeper toward your cervix, or in the areas of discomfort.
Cures for BV solely depend on the female's health conditions. Because BV can be the result of unstable gut health (IBS, gastritis, gluten sensitivity, and more) and hormone levels, it is likely to reoccur until these factors are resolved. The exact causes remain a mystery because of the lack of reliable research conditions in animal models (Turovskiy, Noll & Chikindas, 2011). Unlike most diseases, BV has the potential to just have "seasons", which mean it can clear up temporarily to allow fertility and healthy pregnancy. Having a specialist who understands BV is paramount to overcoming obstacles before, during and after pregnancy.
References
ClincialTrials.gov (2017). Study of How Bacterial Vaginosis and Its Treatment Affects Cervical and Vaginal Tissue (CONRADBV). Source: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01347632
Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2018). Bacterial Vaginosis – CDC Fact Sheet. Source: https://www.cdc.gov/std/bv/stdfact-bacterial-vaginosis.htm
Mann, Denise. (2018). Reader's Digest: 30 Percent of Women Have This Down-There Infection—and They Don’t Even Know It. Source: https://www.rd.com/health/conditions/bacterial-vaginosis-one-in-three-women/
MedicineNet. (2016). Medical Definition of Bacterial vaginosis. Source: https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=19268
Turovskiy, Y., Sutyak Noll, K., & Chikindas, M. L. (2011). The aetiology of bacterial vaginosis. Journal of applied microbiology, 110(5), 1105–1128. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2672.2011.04977.x

Valour foundation

PPROM & BV Awareness

The Valour Foundation was created to bring awareness to about PPROM and its connection with BV. It offers support and hope to parents dealing with PPROM, because every baby matters, every trimester.
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