BV is a vaginal infection that happens when the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina is upset, usually by inflammation. In BV, lactobacilli, the bacteria that keep the lining of the vagina healthy, decrease and anaerobic bacteria in the vagina increase.
Anaerobic bacteria are potentially harmful, but lactobacilli normally keep them in check. If the number of lactobacilli decrease, anaerobic bacteria can overgrow, creating an imbalance in the vagina that sets the stage for bacterial vaginosis.
BV is the most common vaginal condition in women ages 15-44, though women at any age can get this infection. Scientists don’t know what causes BV, but many think it is somehow linked to sexual activity. Although any woman can get BV, the condition is more common among women who have a sexually transmitted infection, have several sex partners, or use an intrauterine device. You cannot get BV from toilet seats, bedding, or swimming pools.
Pregnant women suffering BV have a higher risk for preterm birth and low weight birth, and BV predisposes women to a high risk for sexual transmitted diseases (STD), but up to 84% of woman suffering BV are asymptomatic.
Common BV symptoms include:
- A thin white or gray vaginal discharge
- A foul fish-like odor
- Burning when peeing
- Pain, itching, or burning in the vagina
NOTE: Surveys show, that up to 84% of woman suffering BV are asymptomatic.
MicroGenDX Tests Used in Diagnosing BV
An evaluation and a sample of the discharge from your vagina are often used to diagnose BV. This can involve both immediate tests in the clinic, and sending your sample to a lab. A MicroGenDX test detects the DNA of all microbes in your sample, along with how much of each is present, and uses that information to identify the bacteria in your infection and the drugs that can best treat it. It is important to know that not all antibiotics work for all bacteria, and some even work differently in different areas of the body. Your doctor should consult the "antimicrobials for consideration" chart on your MicroGenDX report to decide what antibiotic is right for you.
It is important to note that there will also be organisms detected in the report that are part of the vagina’s natural “microbiome” – the community of organisms that naturally occur in that part of the body – and do not contribute to an infection.
You can order that “Women’s Health” test and get complete sampling instructions here:
Providing Samples for MicroGenDX Tests
You will need to provide a vaginal swab sample for this test. It’s very important to obtain a proper sample by following the instructions for collecting the sample, as well as when packaging and shipping it.
Everything you need to know about taking a sample is included with your test, and is also available online on the product page. The instructions contain illustrations that will help you collect a sample without contaminating it. For example, you will need to wash your hands thoroughly and clean your genital area with soap and water so that bacteria on the skin aren’t included in your sample. Take care not to contaminate the sample with period blood during menstruation.
Medical Specialties Treating BV
A primary care physician or an OB/GYN can treat BV.
How BV is Treated
BV is treated with a course of antibiotics that you can take as a pill, or as a gel or cream that you apply inside your vagina. It is important to complete the full course of medication as it is prescribed, even when symptoms begin to clear up before you are treated.
Most of the time, one round of antibiotics — taken for up to seven days — eliminates the infection. About 10% to 15% of women need another round of treatment. However, some strains of bacteria involved in BV can develop resistance to specific antibiotics, so that they cannot be effectively treated with those antibiotics. This is why all MicroGenDX diagnostic tests include detection of antibiotic resistance genes in your sample, and then provide alternative antibiotics for your doctor to consider prescribing to you.
Left untreated, BV can increase your risk of getting or transmitting HIV or other sexually transmitted infections, and of having a premature birth if you have BV while pregnant.