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Vaginal Discharge and BV

Every woman can have these kinds of problems, but not every woman is comfortable discussing them, not even with her doctor. Read what a professional has to say about BV, symptoms, causes, and treatment.

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BV, which is short for Bacterial Vaginosis is a clinical syndrome which has characteristic abnormalities of the vaginal secretion and a disturbance of the vaginal ecology with misplacement of the normal lactobacillary flora by anaerobic microorganisms.

Let me simplify this for you, because for something that’s a pretty common issue for women, it sure has a confusing definition. Every vagina is a kind of an eco-system, and a dynamic one at that. But the tricky thing is that this dynamic can be easily altered, which can result in a misbalance of the array of bacterial species that vaginal flora consists of.

Normally, vaginal secretion has a composition that includes cervical mucus, transudated secretions through the vaginal wall and exfoliating squamous epithelial cells from the vaginal wall. These contents make the secretion odorless, viscous, clear (white) and homogenous or somewhat flocculent with clumpy elements. Normal vaginal secretion is also acidic with a PH under 4.5.

However, the vaginal micro-flora complex can be influenced by two types of factors:

  • Endogenous factors such as hormone level variations, anti-infective therapy, incorrect personal hygiene, synthetic underwear, stress, anxiety, unprotected sex, contraception, radiation therapy, surgery etc.
  • Exogenous factors such as menstruation, pregnancy, lactation, glycogen deposition, diabetes mellitus and some other systemic disorders.

One, or a combination of these factors can result in a change in your vaginal discharge – or in BV syndrome. This can make you feel uncomfortable, unpleasant and irritated throughout the genital area.

woman with a loupe

The common symptoms are:

1. Fishy Odor

As much as 75% of the patients with BV complained about having vaginal discharge that has a strong and unpleasant fishy odor. This is caused by the releasing of various amine by-products during the anaerobic metabolism. It’s usually more prominent after intercourse or menstruation, because of the increase of vaginal PH.

2. Change of Color

Most patients with BV report having vaginal discharge that’s a greyish-white color, but it’s possible to see some shades of yellow, green or even brown.

3. Amount

Extensive vaginal discharge, even by itself with no changes in its qualities, is also one of the common symptoms of BV.

4. Erythema

In rare cases there can be erythema present in the vagina.

Establishing that you might have BV should be easy. The next step is to go to your doctor and have him check you out and prescribe medication, because this is something that can be treated easily.

However you shouldn’t do it on your own, without consulting your doctor, because every case is different and he’ll be able to give you best advice and offer the right medical solutions.

It’s really important to stay cool and start treatment if necessary. Know that BV is NOT an STD. Even though it’s more likely to happen to sexually active women it can also be diagnosed in virgins – so it’s not caught by sexual intercourse of any kind.

As a matter of fact, even if a woman suffers from a BV infection treatment, her partner might not be infected. However, getting checked out and treated is important for many other reasons such as avoiding urinary tract infections, which are common in patients with BV, lowering the chances of premature onset of labor, which is also more likely to happen to women with BV, and many others.

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Dr. Hadley is YouQueen's resident gynecologist with over 25 years of experience as a specialist with her own practice. Feel free to ask her questions in the comments.

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