What are treatments for bacterial vaginosis?

If left untreated, bacterial vaginosis infection can spread increasing the symptoms and urinary tract infection that can make women feel very ill. Once diagnosed, an antibiotic treatment will be recommended, because currently this is the most effective way to treat bacterial vaginosis. The antibiotic is either provided in oral form like a tablet, or as a vaginal cream and suppository. The two most used antibiotics for treating bacterial vaginosis is Metronidazole and Clindamycin.

Metronidazole is a nitroimidazole antibiotic medicine usually provided as a vaginal gel, topical cream or oral tablet. Flagyl is the name used for Metronidazole in the United States. The medication is used to treat anaerobic bacterial infections, overgrowth of gardnerella bacteria and also anaerobes, such as mobiluncus and bacteroides that can co-infect cells.

The antibiotic acts on the anaerobic bacteria which causes the bacterial vaginosis. Once absorbed by these bacteria cells, it acts on the ferrodoxin protein to regulate oxidation which was reduced by the bacterial vaginosis infection. This regulation of oxygen then affects how these bacteria multiply in colonies. Through limiting the bacterial growth, the lactobacillus specie has a chance to return to balanced pH levels that reduces symptoms and removes the bacterial vaginosis infection.

Similarly, Clindamycin is a lincosamide antibiotic that acts to inhibit protein synthesis or disrupt the cell producing processes so that bacterial cell growth is limited. Clindamycin or Cleocin is also provided in gel form, oral tablet or suppository. Tinidazole is another antibiotic sometimes used in the treatment of bacterial vaginosis, and trials in pro-biotic treatment with live microorganisms have also proved effective.

Do medications for bacterial vaginosis have side-effects?

The side-effects of antibiotic medications such as Metronidazole affect around one percent of patients and include among some, nausea, diarrhoea and a metallic after-taste in the mouth. Others my include hypersensitivity, rash, headache, dizziness and vomiting. Clindamycin may produce similar side-effects also in about one percent of patients treated.

When the health care practitioner assesses your medical history and health condition, you will be advised if the antibiotic treatment is right for you and also what to do if you do experience any of these side-effects. It is also important to follow guidance on what not to eat or drink, such as alcohol, when taking these types of medication.

What is prophylactic treatment of bacterial vaginosis?

Prophylactic treatment is preventative treatment, such as the antibiotics Metronidazole or Clindamycin that may be recommended by health care providers for treating bacterial vaginosis.

Preventative treatment of bacterial vaginosis is important for those with signs of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) because untreated bacterial vaginosis can increase the risk of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. People at higher risk of contracting STDs or HIV, or women having abortion, hysterectomy, and pelvic surgery are also sometimes prescribed these antibiotics to reduce the probability of bacterial imbalance leading to bacterial vaginosis.

Women in post-menopause, or women who have anaemia when pregnant, and young pre-pubescent girls who get strep may also need preventative treatment for bacterial vaginosis because they are also at higher risk of getting bacterial infection.

How long after treatment will the bacterial vaginosis symptoms subside?

Once the course of antibiotic treatment is started, symptoms should start to alleviate within a few days. Making sure to complete the course of medication prescribed will help to prevent reoccurrence of bacterial vaginosis.

The duration of treatment will depend on the form of antibiotic, whether tablet, gel or suppository, and also the extent of infection. Your medical health professional will advise you on the treatment recommended for your specific diagnosis, and how soon to expect results.

Will my sexual partner also need treatment for bacterial vaginosis?

Usually, if in a male to female sexual relationship, the male will not need treatment for bacterial vaginosis because it cannot be contracted by a man and then passed to a woman. However, same sex female partners would both need treatment if one female partner had bacterial vaginosis infection. The infection does spread between women.

How often can bacterial vaginosis re-occur?

Even though antibiotic treatment is provided, women can experience bacterial vaginosis infection an unlimited number of times. Steps can be taken to reduce likelihood of developing bacterial vaginosis. Research suggests that approximately thirty percent of women experience symptoms again within three months after treatment. Following preventative measures can reduce the risk of re-developing bacterial vaginosis.

Can women with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) have effective treatment for bacterial vaginosis?

Whether a woman has HIV infection or not, if bacterial vaginosis is suspected then the same antibiotic treatment of Metronidazole or Clindamycin will apply as to a woman not infected with HIV.

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