Bacterial vaginosis in pregnancy – how to treat?
Bacterial vaginosis in pregnancy is common. While the incidence of bacterial vaginosis has been said to be around 50% among pregnant women, this figure might have been underestimated though. This is simply because the majority of cases are asymptomatic and therefore are not reported or treated.
Briefly, bacterial vaginosis is a vaginal infection due to the diminish of good bacteria, e.g. hydrogen peroxide-producing Lactobacillus, coupled with an overgrowth of anaerobic and Gram-negative bacteria, which are the bad bacteria, around the vaginal area. This imbalance in the vaginal flora may be the most important factor that triggers BV.
Bacterial vaginosis is usually a benign condition in non-pregnant women, but it has been associated with many complications of pregnancy, including preterm delivery, premature rupture of the membranes, amniotic fluid infection, and, possibly, spontaneous abortion.
So how is bacterial vaginosis in pregnancy being treated? Well, most likely your doctor will prescribe you with antibiotics.
The most commonly used oral antibiotic to treat bacterial vaginosis is metronidazole, in both pregnant and non-pregnant women. This antibiotic usually is to be taken two times a day for 7 days. Cure rates with metronidazole have been reported to range between 54-96% and varied among different dosages. While metronidazole is known to be effective in stopping symptoms of bacterial vaginosis, high concentrations of this antibiotic may also inhibit the growth of the good bacteria Lactobacillus. This could be a potential cause for recurring bacterial vaginosis.
The second common antibiotic treatment for bacterial vaginosis is oral clindamycin. It has been reported that a 300-mg, twice-daily course of clindamycin for 7 days resulted in a 94% cure rate. However, efficacy studies of clindamycin in treating this vaginal infection have not been conducted among pregnant women.
Besides oral medication, there are also topical antibiotic treatment, including metronidazole vaginal gel and clindamycin vaginal cream. While both topical treatments were reported to have relatively high cure rates, they only treat bacterial vaginosis infections of the lower genital tract, and do not treat bacterial vaginosis affecting the upper genital tract.
It is known that bacterial vaginosis increases a pregnant woman’s risk of preterm delivery, but studies so far have not yet found solid evidence that either oral and topical antibiotics are able to reduce such risk. Studies are still ongoing to determine if antibiotic therapy during pregnancy will lower the risk of pregnancy complications.
Another dilemma that arises with antibiotic treatment is that the drugs also inadvertently killed the good bacteria,, which are important in balancing the vaginal microflora. This indirectly encourages the bad bacteria to flourish and outgrow the good bacteria. When this happens, bacterial vaginosis will recur. Statistics show that one third of women treated with antibiotics experienced recurring bacterial vaginosis within 3 months.
Treating bacterial vaginosis in pregnancy with natural remedies
For many women, natural remedies for bacterial vaginosis are effective in eliminating the disease. For pregnant women, it is always best to take medicines prescribed, if any, by the doctor, and consult the doctor before commencing any natural treatment for bacterial vaginosis. Here are some common natural remedies to treat bacterial vaginosis in pregnancy.
Take Lactobacillus supplements daily to help reintroduce good bacteria into the body and control the population of bad bacteria.
Consume yogurt to replenish the number of good bacteria in the body, but make sure the yogurt contains “live culture” or acidophilus, which are also sources of good bacteria.
Pure cranberry juice (without sugar added) may be helpful too, since cranberries are said to have antibiotic properties.