Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common condition in women presenting as a malodorous vaginal discharge. The smell is often worse after sex and arround the menstrual period. Occasionally there is an associated itching or burning sensation although most women with BV only have the discharge. BV can also be detected in women who are totally symptom free.
BV is caused by an imbalance of the normal vagina flora and its mechanism remain poorly understood. An updated review by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), USA confirms a commonly observation that BV follows sexual intercourse with a new partner and multiple partners as well as vaginal douching.
BV, itself an benign though troublesome nuisance is associated with increased risk of a number of infections or conditions:
Having BV can increase a woman’s susceptibility to HIV infection if she is exposed to the HIV virus.
Having BV increases the chances that an HIV-infected woman can pass HIV to her sex partner.
Having BV has been associated with an increase in the development of an infection following surgical procedures such as a hysterectomy or an abortion.
Having BV while pregnant may put a woman at increased risk for some complications of pregnancy, such as preterm delivery.
- The bacteria that cause BV can sometimes infect the uterus (womb) and fallopian tubes (tubes that carry eggs from the ovaries to the uterus). This type of infection is called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
- Pregnant women with BV more often have babies who are born premature or with low birth weight (low birth weight is less than 5.5 pounds). Pregnant women who have had previous premature of low birth weight babies should be tested and treated for BV in third trimester regardless of symptoms.