The disease I’ve chosen to write my research paper on is Bacterial Vaginosis. Bacterial Vaginosis is vaginal condition that can produce vaginal discharge and results from an overgrowth of normal bacteria in the vagina. In the past, the condition was called Gardnerella vaginitis, after the bacteria that was believed to have caused the condition. However, the newer name, Bacterial Vaginosis, reflects the fact that there are a number of species of bacteria that naturally live in the vaginal area and may grow to exceed it’s natural balance.

The Gardnerella organism was found not to be the sole culprit causing the symptoms. When these multiple species of bacteria become imbalanced, a woman can have a vaginal discharge with a foul odor. Bacterial Vaginosis is not dangerous, but it can cause disturbing symptoms. Any woman with an unusual discharge should be evaluated so that more serious infections such as Chlamydia and Gonorrhea, can be excluded from their diagnosis. Symptoms are also similar to that of vaginal yeast infections and trichomoniasis.

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A combination of multiple bacteria must be present together for the problem to develop. Bacterial vaginosis typically features a reduction in the number of the normal hydrogen peroxide-producing lactobacilli in the vagina. All together, there is an increase in concentration of other types of bacteria, especially anaerobic bacteria (bacteria that grow in the absence of oxygen). As a result, the diagnosis and treatment are not as simple as identifying and eradicating a single type of bacteria.

Some increasing of Bacterial Vaginosis are: multiple or new sexual partners, intrauterine devices for contraception, recent antibiotic use, vaginal douching, and cigarette smoking. Examining the vaginal discharge under the microscope can help distinguish bacterial vaginosis from yeast vagiitis (vaginal yeast infection, Candidiasis) and trichomonaisis (a type of sexually-transmitted infection). A sign of bacterial vaginosis under the microscope is a vaginal cell called a clue cell.

Clue cells are vaginal cells covered with bacteria and are believed to be the most reliable evidence of bacterial vaginosis. In addition to clue cells, women with bacterial vaginosis have fewer of the normal vaginal bacteria, called lactobacilli. A vaginal pH greater than 4. 5 is also suggestive of bacterial vaginosis. Almost 1/3 of cases of bacterial vaginosis may resolve on their own, it is recommended that medical treatment be given if symptoms are present or during pregnancy to avoid the development of complications.

Antibiotics are the recommended treatment for bacterial vaginosis. A few antibiotic remedies are routinely used. Metronidazole (Flagyl) taken by either oral (pill) form or by vaginal Metronidazale gel (Metrogel) is an effective cure. The oral metronidazole can cause some minor but unpleasant side effects, but is believed to be the most effective treatment. The gels do not typically cause side effects, although yeast vaginitis can occur as a side effect of the medication.