Evidently, 10-30% of women experience bacterial vaginosis (BV) during their pregnancy. Apparently, 1 million pregnant women suffer from this infection every year. Get treated as soon as possible, as this can cause complications during pregnancy. Don’t worry as the infection can be easily treated with medications!
Factors That Make Pregnant Women Prone To Bacterial Vaginosis
Your vagina is a home for both “good” bacteria called lactobacilli as well as “bad” bacteria known as anaerobes. Under normal circumstances, there is a balance between the lactobacilli and anaerobes. Both the microorganisms work together in harmony to maintain the hygiene of your intimate area. When there is an imbalance between them, this infection occurs. There are certain factors that can increase the risk though. Some of them are:
- Getting involved in unprotected sex
- Consuming antibiotics
- Getting involved with multiple partners
- Using vaginal medications
- Using intimate hygiene products such as sprays and douches
- Maintaining an unhealthy diet
- Having a weak immunity system
Signs and Symptoms To Look Out For
Did you know that only 50% of women suffering from Bacterial Vaginosis show any symptoms or signs? Some of the symptoms you should look out for are-
- Fishy odor
- Burning sensation
- Pain in the intimate area
- Abnormal and foul-smelling discharge
- Thin, dull grey or white or foamy discharge
Although these are some common symptoms that are likely to occur most women don’t show any symptoms at all. Some of them are diagnosed with the infection during a routine Pap smear test.
Effect Of This Infection On Pregnancy
Few research studies show that there is a direct effect of this infection on pregnancy. The studies indicate there can be preterm labor or miscarriage due to Bacterial Vaginosis. If you leave the infection untreated for long, it can turn nasty and even result in pelvic inflammatory disease which is one of the major causes of infertility.
When Bacterial vaginosis (BV) occurs during pregnancy, it can cause other problems also. Some of them include premature labor, late miscarriage and even premature rupture of membranes. The babies born might even have a low birth weight.
If you are trying to get pregnant through in-vitro fertilization (IVF), you are likely to achieve very little success if you are suffering from BV.
Also Read: Risk Factors of Bacterial Vaginosis
Diagnosis for Bacterial Vaginosis
Diagnosis for this infection involves checking your medical history and performing a pelvic exam. During a pelvic exam, the doctor examines your vagina and checks for any sign of infection. The doctor might even take a sample of your vaginal discharge and run through some tests.
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Treatment For Bacterial Vaginosis
Home remedies are one of the safest options you can try during pregnancy to get some relief from symptoms of bacterial vaginosis. Some of the home remedies that have been proven to be effective in curing this infection are discussed below.
- Yogurt has plenty of healthy bacteria which helps to bring back the balance between “good” and “bad” bacteria. Eat at least one serving of yogurt every day to reap the full benefits.
- Probiotics help to establish a balanced vaginal environment and prevent overgrowth of “bad” bacteria. You can also take probiotic supplements regularly to treat and prevent bacterial vaginosis in the future.
- Garlic is one of the best-known home remedies for bacterial vaginosis. This has strong antibacterial properties.
- Hydrogen peroxide can be used daily for one week. It comes with very few side-effects.
- Tea tree oil has both antibacterial and antifungal properties that can provide immediate relief from symptoms of this infection. It is important that you mix essential oils such as coconut, olive, sweet almond with a carrier oil before applying.
- Wear cotton underwear to let your intimate area breathe. Trapping moisture increases the chances of bacterial vaginosis.
- Avoid douching to maintain the proper balance between both the bacteria. What we may consider as “cleaning” only increases the chances of infection.
- Indulge in safe sex by using condoms. This reduces the risk of bacterial vaginosis considerably.
The infection can also be treated with antibiotics. You can either consume antibiotic pills or apply a cream inside your vagina. It is important to follow some instructions and complete the full course of medications. Some of the antibiotics prescribed by the doctor are:
- Metronidazole which is taken orally
- Tinidazole which is also taken orally
- Clindamycin which is inserted into the vagina
These medications should be taken only after proper consultation with the doctor.
A Guide To Maintain Vaginal Health
You might be aware of the proverb, “Prevention is better than Cure”. To prevent the infection, you can use practice these simple tips. Some of them are-
- Don’t use any scented products on the vagina including scented tampons or soaps.
- Use only water to clean the vagina. Do not insert soap into the vagina.
- Always wipe from front to back. This will prevent fecal matter from entering the vagina.
- Keep your intimate area dry. Gently pat the vaginal area dry after a shower.
- Keep your hands clean before touching the vagina.
One of the most common infections among pregnant women is Bacterial Vaginosis. You can take various preventive measures to reduce the risk. Visit to the gynecologist immediately if you experience any symptoms of BV. If you seek treatment on time, there are lesser chances of any complications.
About The Author:
Dr. Garima Sawhney, MBBS, M.S | Gynaecologist & Obstetrician, trained in Cosmetic & Aesthetic Gynaecology (ESAG), Specialist in Minimal Access Surgery.