Bacterial vaginosis (BV)
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the commonest cause of vaginal infection (vaginitis).
The commonest symptom of BV is an abnormal vaginal discharge with an
unpleasant fishy smell. However, half of all women with BV don't
notice any symptoms.
A healthy vagina normally contains many microorganisms, the most
common being Lactobacillus acidophilus. Lactobacillus appears to help
prevent other vaginal microorganisms from multiplying to a level where
they cause symptoms. The microorganisms involved in BV include
Gardnerella vaginalis, Mobiluncus, Bacteroides, and Mycoplasma. For
reasons not well understood, the numbers of these organisms increase
with BV while the number of lactobacillus organisms decreases.
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Most cases of bacterial vaginosis occur in sexually active women
between the ages of 15 and 44, especially after contact with a new
partner. Condoms do not appear to provide protection, but use of
spermicides increases BV risk somewhat. Although BV appears to be
associated with and triggered by sexual intercourse, it does not
appear to be transmitted from one partner to another. Rather, it is a
disordering of the chemical and biological balance of the individual's
populations of microflora. Pregnant women and women with a sexually
transmitted disease are especially at risk for getting this infection.
Bacterial vaginosis does not usually affect women after menopause.
Untreated bacterial vaginosis can cause pelvic inflammatory disease
which can cause fatal complications of pregnancy, premature delivery
and low birth weight of infants.
Bacterial vaginosis can be cured by antibiotics.