What causes bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis is a bacterial infection of the vaginal, and is the most common infection encountered in a gynecologist’s clinic. It is not a sexually transmitted disease (STD). While it is called ‘infection’, it is not because you got it from someone. It is an overgrowth of bacteria that are naturally found in the vagina.

Bacterial vaginosis is used to be known as Gardnerella vaginitis, because the bacteria called Gardnerella vaginalis was believed to be the sole culprit that causes bacterial vaginosis, although this germ can also cause a wide variety of infections. It was thought that too much of this particular species of bacteria that brings about the symptoms of BV. Researchers later found that several other species of bacteria that naturally reside in the vagina can also cause bacterial vaginosis when they grow excessively. Today, the preferred term for this condition is bacterial vaginosis.

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If you didn’t know, different species of germs are found naturally in the vagina. They are collectively known as the vaginal flora. The predominant group of bacteria found in the vagina is the ‘good’ bacteria, lactobacilli. Other types of germs (in much smaller number) residing in the vagina are the anaerobic bacteria, including G vaginalis. Anaerobic bacteria are bacteria that grow in the absence of oxygen.

Some of the anaerobic microorganisms that are associated with the development of bacterial vaginosis include:

* Mobiluncus
* Bacteroides
* Peptostreptococcus
* Fusobacterium
* Veillonella
* Eubacterium species
* Atopbium vaginae

The lactobacilli bacteria produce hydrogen peroxide and help to maintain the acidic pH of healthy vaginas, and at the same time restrain other anaerobic microorganisms to proliferate excessively. Normally, lactobacilli are found in high amounts in a healthy vagina. In BV, the pattern of the vaginal flora is altered. The hydrogen peroxide-producing lactobacilli population is significantly reduced, while populations of various anaerobes and G vaginalis are increased. Too many anaerobic bacteria leads to an increase in the pH of the vaginal environment (i.e. becomes less acidic), and thus causes bacterial vaginosis. The shift in the vaginal flora causes an increase in vaginal discharge and vaginal malodor, which are typical symptoms of bacterial vaginosis.

As to what upsets the balance in the vaginal flora or causes an overgrowth of particular species of bacteria in the vagina is still not fully understood, but certain risk factors have been associated to a woman’s chances of developing bacterial vaginosis, such as:

* Cigarette smoking
* Having multiple or new sex partners
* Having a female sex partner

While BV seems to be more common in women who are sexually active or have multiple sex partners, medical scientists believed that the condition is neither infectious nor entirely related to sexual activity, because BV also strikes a small proportion of women who have not had sexual intercourse. There are other causes and risk factors involved.

To know more about bacterial vaginosis causes, please go to page 2.

Click here if you want to be free from bacterial vaginosis in 3 days or less!