It’s no surprise if you’ve overlooked Bacterial Vaginosis up till now. Most women don’t seem to find the signs and symptoms of BV worrisome, which is valid because Bacterial Vaginosis is known to clear up on its own in some women—and if that isn’t fascinating enough to read, it is estimated that up to 85% of women infected with Bacterial Vaginosis will show no symptoms at all! Contrary to popular belief, though, symptomless women are not completely insusceptible to the complications associated with Bacterial Vaginosis, which is why doctors test for BV before performing certain procedures.
In order to know what to look for in order to find out if you have BV, one needs to understand that Bacterial Vaginosis disturbs the usual balance of bacteria in the vagina—so that it has less of lactobacilli (lactic acid bacteria), an overgrowth of bad bacteria and a more alkaline pH (the vagina usually has an acidic environment). Other than the foul smell you may experience, a doctor would use essentially use these changes in your vagina’s environment to determine if you have Bacterial Vaginosis—the common tests used are whiff test, litmus test and checking for the presence of clue cells.
If you’ve been through a medical procedure like hysterectomy or surgical abortion, or you’ve given birth, you must have been tested for Bacterial Vaginosis at the time—even if you didn’t present with symptoms. Why? It’s precisely because symptomless doesn’t mean riskless. In fact, some women might experience some of the primary symptoms in low intensity and let it off the hook—read on to see what you’ve been possibly ignoring.
A small amount of research would have already acquainted you with some of the primary symptoms of BV, which should send you to the doctor. The most telltale and common one is the characteristic vaginal discharge. Going by appearance, it may vary from white to gray to yellow, with a thin, slimy or foamy consistency. And as for the smell—the slightly more upsetting symptom—the ‘fishy’, musky odor. On the other hand, normal vaginal discharge varies in consistency and volume throughout the menstrual cycle and more so, is clearest halfway through the cycle. The characteristic discharge in BV is noted to increase after sexual intercourse, and some women only experience the fishy-smelling discharge after sexual intercourse.
Let’s look at certain secondary symptoms, which don’t always hold true for those who are infected. For instance, there can be itchiness and soreness around the vagina, or a swollen vagina. There may be also a burning sensation and pain while urinating, which is why many women suffering from Bacterial Vaginosis mistake it for a urinary tract infection—though BV can lead to the former. Additionally, irritation or pain during sex or even during vaginal discharge can occur. However, these symptoms are not a direct result of Bacterial Vaginosis but are caused by the spread of the bacteria in the vagina.
Usually, if you have one or two of the primary symptoms—particularly the bad odor—and two to three of the secondary ones, you are definitely up against BV. However, ignoring subtle signs in order for them to develop into more obvious signs can be dangerous for your health as BV can lead to many complications in pregnancy as well as illnesses such as PID. It’s important to remember that symptoms for BV can be hard to notice, not just because they’re pretty harmless at surface but also because they’re generic. Symptoms for Bacterial Vaginosis are very similar to other infections and conditions like candida and trichomoniasis, which have completely different treatments.
Because of the sneaky nature of BV as seen in these symptoms, it’s essential to pay heed to such changes in your vaginal discharge. Even if you’ve been through a pelvic exam and have been tested using a pap smear, it is insufficient to determine whether you have Bacterial Vaginosis or not. Remember: your body is the best judge of whether something is wrong with it or not. These symptoms together with your ‘instinct’ are there to remind you when you need to spend some time on yourself—after all, no woman should have to be stuck with BV indefinitely.
If you do have BV, use the Bye BV program to be done with it quickly and for good.