Untreated Bacterial Vaginosis: What Are The Risks?

BV, short for bacterial vaginosis, is a common condition affecting nearly 30% of women that occurs due to changes in bacteria levels in the vagina. Any woman can suffer from the disorder but certain factors can increase the risk.

Fortunately, bacterial vaginosis is treatable, so visit your doctor or nurse immediately if you notice any symptoms. If left untreated, the condition may result in complications like:

1. Higher chances of contracting STIs

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Untreated BV increases the risk of catching STIs like herpes or chlamydia. This is due to changes in mucin-degrading enzymes and vaginal pH.

Mucin-degrading enzymes affect cervical mucus, which provides a barrier to target cells and traps pathogens that lead to vulnerability. The risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections increases with the severity of the BV.

2. Decrease in fertility

Untreated bacterial vaginosis decreases fertility by creating a toxic environment that doesn’t support reproduction, increasing inflammation, and compromising the immune system.

Furthermore, the numerous changes from the infection affect the survival of the sperm and vaginal cells.

3. Risk of developing pelvic inflammatory disease

BV alters the vaginal flora and is thus associated with pelvic inflammatory disease. This is an infection of the reproductive system and may result in ectopic pregnancy or severe reproductive morbidity.

4. Pregnancy complications

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Bacterial vaginosis can affect any woman, and pregnant women are no exception. Sadly, the infection is even more serious in expectant mothers, leading to pregnancy complications, including early delivery or low birth weight. In addition, it may lead to other serious infections after delivery.

Unfortunately, expectant mothers are more prone to the infection due to alterations in hormones that occur during pregnancy. That’s why the condition should not be left untreated to avoid further complications.

5. Infections after surgery

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Untreated bacterial vaginosis may lead to infections after surgeries like hysterectomies, cesarean deliveries, and abortions. Most of these infections affect the female reproductive system.

6. High chances of getting HIV

Generally, bacterial vaginosis interferes with the protective microorganisms in the vagina. As a result, a BV patient is more vulnerable to contracting HIV from an infected person. Besides, the condition increases pH levels which supports the survival of the HIV virus.

Again, since the condition interferes with the protective mucus barrier, BV patients are more likely to contract HIV from infected persons compared to BV-free females. The condition impacts your reproductive system and should be treated immediately to avoid further complications.

Bacterial vaginosis treatment options

BV patients should be treated to relieve symptoms and avoid further complications. Some possible medical treatment options include:

  • Tinidazole which is taken orally
  • Clindamycin ovules which are inserted vaginally
  • Clindamycin taken orally or a cream inserted vaginally.
  • Metronidazole gel for vaginal insertion or metronidazole taken by mouth.

Most vaginal insert medications are done at night as you go to sleep so your body gets enough time for the treatment.

Complementary therapies include:

Patients using tinidazole or metronidazole should use condoms or refrain from intercourse. They should also avoid alcohol when taking and after the completion of the treatment.

It’s not surprising for the condition to persist or recur. Your doctor might prescribe more drugs or an extended course of antibiotics for effective treatment. Adhere to the treatment faithfully and always check with your doctor in case of any new symptoms.

The advantages of using the treatment mentioned above include treating the infection thoroughly as long as you closely follow the doctor’s instructions. Besides, you avoid further complications that result from untreated bacterial vaginosis.

In addition, expectant mothers avoid pregnancy complications like low-birth-weight babies or early delivery. And in the case of cesarean delivery, there won’t be higher risks of contracting infection, and you get to avoid reduced fertility.

Final thought

Untreated bacterial vaginosis may result in serious complications. Luckily, the condition is easily treated so long as you stick to the treatment plan and check with your doctor in case of severe symptoms.

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