One of the most common vaginal infections found in women of childbearing age is bacterial vaginosis – also referred to as BV. The condition is characterized by an imbalance in the normal levels of bacteria in the vagina. The overgrowth of certain bacteria causes a host of symptoms that differ for each woman, which includes vaginal discharge, odor, burning, itching, and discomfort.
Bacterial vaginosis emerges when certain types of bacteria, such as the Gardnerella organism, rapidly produce in the vagina. The condition is not dangerous, not contagious, and does not affect men. Contrary to popular belief, bacterial vaginosis is not a sexually transmitted disease.
BV is tricky to properly diagnose since the majority of women do not show any symptoms. To make matters worse, common symptoms for bacterial vaginosis are quite similar to many dreaded sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as gonorrhea. Doctors typically analyze vaginal discharge under a microscope to identify a case of bacterial vaginosis.
When symptoms do arise, the overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina causes a woman to experience a change in her vaginal discharge. It can become grayish white or yellow in color. A distinct ‘fishy’ odor also accompanies changes in the vaginal region.
In the United States, bacterial vaginosis is a common nightmare for pregnant women . Expectant mothers face many risks when diagnosed with BV, including early labor, additional infection, miscarriages, and delivering babies with a low birth weight.
By the Numbers
According to the National Health Service (NHS) of the United Kingdom, about 12% to 30% of adult women in the UK may be affected with bacterial vaginosis with around 20% of pregnant women in the UK becoming affected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States estimate that about 16% of American women are affected with the condition .