Bacterial Vaginitis: Causes, Symptoms & Diagnosis

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Bacterial vaginitis, also referred to as bacterial vaginosis, is one of the most common conditions wherein there is fluid discharge from the genitourinary tract (GIT) of the female. According to the Bandolier, a scientific journal that gives evidence-based opinions; about 10% of the women around the globe are affected by the condition at some point in their life. However as many as half of the female population have either mild or no symptoms.

The fluid discharge is thick, white, and foul-smelling. This is caused due to the growth of a set of bacteria leading to a pH imbalance in the affected area and inflammation of the vagina. This causes redness, swelling, pain, and a burning sensation for the female. It is easily curable via some precautionary measures involving personal hygiene.

Causes of Bacterial Vaginitis

It is caused due to excessive growth of a particular set of bacteria that competes for the normal flora of the vagina, resulting in a shift from acidic to alkaline conditions. It is easy to treat the disease, but if left untreated, bacterial vaginitis increases the risk of developing the pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) as well as complications during pregnancy.

Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginitis

The prominent symptoms of bacterial vaginitis are summarized below:

  • Itching in the vaginal region
  • Pain or burning is noticeable and increases while urinating or having sexual intercourse
  • The lips outside the vagina, called the vulva, are more red or inflamed than usual
  • Vaginal discharge that is thick, heavy, and white or gray in color
  • A foul and unpleasant smell from the discharge
  • Discharge increases after coitus or the menstrual cycle

Note: If the discharge is thin with streaks of blood, it is indicative of atrophic vaginitis

Diagnosis

There are a few methods to diagnose bacterial vaginosis, these include a medical history examination, wherein your doctor will ask you questions regarding any vaginal infections that you may have experienced before.

  • Your doctor will also ask you about your sex life or any other sexually transmitted diseases that you might have had before.
  • Your doctor may also do a thorough pelvic examination, wherein they will insert two fingers into your vagina while pressing on your abdomen to check for any signs of infection in your pelvic organs.
  • On detecting something abnormal, your doctor may also send a sample of your vaginal secretions to the labs for further evaluation. There they will test for any signs of bacterial vaginosis.

Sometimes, the doctor may also use a pH strip to check for the acidity of your vagina. A normal pH level should be 4.5 or below, so if the pH strip gives a number higher than this, then you may have bacterial vaginosis.

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