By Briana Davis, Clinical Trials of Texas
SAN ANTONIO - Bacterial vaginosis is the most common cause of vaginal infection among women of childbearing age. Signs and symptoms of this condition are often embarrassing and uncomfortable for those affected. Symptoms can be very similar or mimic that of a yeast infection which frequently results in a misdiagnosis and improper over-the-counter treatment.
Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis vary from woman to woman and may include a wide range of unpleasant effects, however nearly half of all women with a clinical diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis are asymptomatic, meaning that no symptoms are present. A woman with symptoms may experience thin, grayish white vaginal discharge, unpleasant vaginal odor (especially after sexual intercourse), burning sensation during urination or itching around the labia.
The exact cause of bacterial vaginosis is not fully understood, but it is believed to be the result of an overgrowth of naturally occurring bacterial flora in the vagina which upsets the natural balance of microorganisms. The risk of developing bacterial vaginosis has shown to increase in women who have multiple sex partners or a new sex partner. Women who use an intrauterine device (IUD) as a means of birth control or women who practice douching are also more susceptible.
A pelvic exam and laboratory tests are needed in order to diagnose bacterial vaginosis and rule out more serious medical conditions. A diagnosis can be distinguished through a series of diagnostic tests. First, a sample of vaginal fluid is examined under a microscope to detect the presence of organisms associated with bacterial vaginosis. The pH of the sample may also be examined. A vaginal pH greater than 4.5 is suggestive of bacterial vaginosis. Additionally, a “whiff test” with potassium hydroxide (KOH) liquid may be performed. When a drop of KOH testing liquid comes in contact with vaginal fluid from a woman with bacterial vaginosis, an unpleasant fishy odor can result.
In some cases, bacterial vaginosis may go away on its own, however, if symptoms persist, oral or vaginal antibiotics such as metronidazole (i.e. Flagyl, Metrogel-Vaginal), tinidazole (Tindamax) or clindamycin (i.e. Cleocin, Clindesse) may be prescribed. Even with treatment, it is possible that symptoms will not go away and a recurrence of symptoms within three to six months following treatment is very common and a second course of antibiotics is generally prescribed.
If you feel you have symptoms of bacterial vaginosis, it is important to see your physician. Generally, bacterial vaginosis does not lead to more serious medical complications, but women with a history of bacterial vaginosis are more susceptible to sexually transmitted infections. They are also at a higher risk of developing a post-surgical infection after gynecologic surgery. In pregnant women, bacterial vaginosis is linked to premature births as well as low birth weights.
Many women suffer with recurrent bacterial vaginosis and researchers are exploring new treatment regimens. Clinical Trials of Texas, Inc. is currently conducting a research study for women with recurrent bacterial vaginosis. If you would like to learn more about this trial, please call 210-949-0122 or visit us at SAresearch.com