How bacterial baginosis can affect your pregnancy

Bacterial vaginosis, or BV, is a vaginal infection most common in women of childbearing age ranging 15-45. It only occurs if the normal bacteria, called “Lactobacilli” inside the vagina are decreasing in number thus affecting the vagina’s acidity to maintain the balance of bacterial growth; therefore, it produces a whitish to gray vaginal discharge accompanied with a foul or fishy smell.

Who can get BV?

Having bacterial vaginosis is not limited to pregnant women. Although one out of 5 pregnant women can have this infection but the estimation varies. Furthermore, more than 70% of women diagnosed with BV are sexually active.

What are the symptoms of BV?

Most women who have BV had not yet encountered any symptoms except for the whitish to grayish white vaginal discharge with fishy smell. The odor is most obvious after sex especially when mixed with semen while the discharge causes some burning sensation during urination but this is not very common.

What are the causes of BV?

Unfortunately, the causes of BV are still unknown. Typically, it features a reduction in number of “Lactobacilli”, a group of hydrogen peroxide-producing bacteria, in the vagina but there is also an increase of other types of bacteria especially those that grow in the absence of oxygen. Tests are still being conducted but the conclusion how BV develops is still uncertain.

Is BV linked to pregnancy complications?

Bacterial vaginosis is not something problematic as it usually resolves on its own. However, in pregnancy, it can increase the risk of preterm birth, premature labor, infection of the amniotic fluid, second-trimester miscarriages and having a low birth-weight baby. The link between BV and pregnancy complications is still not very clear as many women with BV can still have normal pregnancies and other pregnancy complications vary per woman checked for BV. Currently, screening pregnant women is still not recommended and only those with preterm birth history are usually checked for BV.

Nevertheless, having Bacterial vaginosis can make women more susceptible to some sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and HIV. BV can also mimic to those symptoms of yeast infection as well as Trichomoniasis, an infection caused by Trichomonas vaginalis unless further tests will be conducted.

What tests will be conducted if diagnosed with BV?

A test called the “whiff” test will be conducted to women who are diagnosed with BV by getting a swab of the vaginal discharge and add a small amount of Potassium hydroxide after putting it in a microscopic slide. Aside from the “whiff” test, other tests can be used such as by determining the following:

  • The color and the smell of the vaginal discharge
  • The pH of the discharge it is greater than 4.5 (normally, the vagina is slightly acidic with a pH of 3.8 to 4.2)
  • The presence of clue cells in microscopy (this is almost the same as the whiff test but by placing a drop of Sodium chloride solution on the slide with vaginal discharge instead of Potassium hydroxide)

What factors can develop BV?

Since the findings about Bacterial vaginosis are still not certain, it is best to follow safe-sex practices especially those women who are sexually active. There is also one more reason for pregnant women to quit smoking as it contains some harmful chemicals that not only allows the said bacteria to develop but also increases the risk of preterm labor. Lastly, avoid vaginal douching because it can promote more bacteria to enter the vagina.

How is BV treated?

If a pregnant woman is diagnosed with BV, it is best to consult an OBGYN or physician to get antibiotics that are safe to take during pregnancy. The prescriptions may vary so be sure to ask for consultation before taking any medicine. Take note that even if the symptoms of having the vaginal discharge have gone away, the chance for the BV to go back is still high because the regeneration of the “good” bacteria in the vagina takes time to control the bad ones; therefore, it would be much better to take medicine continuously until advised not to do so.