Bacterial vaginosis is one of the most common vaginal infection for women of childbearing age. While it is normal to have small amounts of the bacteria responsible for this infection living in the vagina, when there is an overgrowth of them, it becomes a problem. The bacteria that are responsible include Gardnerella vaginalis, Mobiluncus and Mycoplasma hominis. Bacterial vaginosis can be spread through sexual contact, although it is not considered a sexually transmitted disease, because it can also develop on its own without sexual contact.
Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include soreness, inflammation, burning, swelling, pain during intercourse, difficulty urinating and a discharge that is both unpleasant and has a distinctive foul odor. Some women have no symptoms even though they have an infection raging.
Bacterial overgrowth is caused by a pH imbalance in the vagina. Some things that cause an imbalance include douching, taking antibiotics, hormonal changes and the insertion of foreign bodies (like tampons, diaphragms, IUDs and semen, for example). If the infection occurs during pregnancy or recurs frequently, see your physician. Wearing unbleached cotton underwear without pantyhose and tight clothing can help prevent the condition.
Developing bacterial vaginosis while pregnant may lead to premature birth or premature rupture of the membranes. This infection may permanently affect fertility. It may also cause endometriosis after the birth. If a woman has the condition during an abortion or other surgical procedures on the reproductive organs, there is a higher rate of pelvic inflammatory disease. There may also be a higher risk of contracting HIV due to vaginal irritation, urinary tract infections and cervicitis.