WHAT EXACTLY IS BACTERIAL VAGINOSIS?
Bacterial vaginosis is a vaginal dysbiosis resulting from replacement of normal hydrogen peroxide and lactic-acid-producing Lactobacillus species in the vagina with high concentrations of anaerobic bacteria, including G. vaginalis, Prevotella species, Mobiluncus species, A. vaginae, and other BV-associated bacteria. Certain women experience transient vaginal microbial changes, whereas others experience them for longer intervals. BV is a highly prevalent condition and the most common cause of vaginal discharge worldwide.
Treatment options for BV include both prescription medication and lifestyle changes. The goals of treatment are to alleviate symptoms and prevent recurrence of BV.
Antibiotics: BV is usually treated with antibiotics. The most commonly prescribed antibiotics for BV are metronidazole and clindamycin. These antibiotics are available in oral and topical forms.
Probiotics: Some studies have shown that taking probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that normally reside in the vagina, can help restore the balance of bacteria and prevent recurrence of BV. Probiotics are available in various forms such as capsules, tablets, and suppositories.
Lifestyle changes: Certain lifestyle changes can help prevent BV and reduce the risk of recurrence. These include:
- Avoiding douching or using scented products in the vaginal area
- Wearing loose-fitting cotton underwear and avoiding tight clothing
- Practicing good hygiene, including wiping from front to back after using the bathroom
- Limiting the number of sexual partners and using condoms during sex
- Eating a healthy diet and managing stress levels
It is important to note that antibiotics can sometimes lead to the overgrowth of other harmful bacteria or fungi, which can cause additional infections. Taking a probiotic supplement can help to restore the natural balance of bacteria in the body by introducing beneficial bacteria. Many doctors will automatically prescribe a probiotic when they prescribe antibiotics. However, it is important to explain to your patient that they should take the probiotic supplement several hours before or after the antibiotics to avoid potential interactions between the two. It is also important to remind them to complete the full course of antibiotics. Because BV can sometimes recur, encourage patients to follow-up with their doctor if symptoms persist or return after treatment.