There are many types of vaginal infections that women can have which are caused by the depletion of certain bacterial populations that naturally exist in the vagina. Chronic bacterial vaginosis is among those infections and is sometimes confused with Trichomoniasis or Cadidiasis (yeast infection) because they can have similar symptoms (foul smelling thick vaginal discharge is the main symptom).
What causes chronic bacterial vaginosis?
The way that a woman can get infected with BV is not completely understood. Though the risk of this problem rises with the number of sexual partners that a woman has, even women who are celibate are seen to have this infection so bacterial vaginosis is not classified as a sexually transmitted disease.
Women who abstain from sex, women in monogamous relationships and even women who use condoms for each instance of sexual intercourse can have BV.
However the risk of the infection increases when a woman has multiple partners or may develop soon after a new sexual relationship.
Women who have same sex partners also have high incidences of chronic bacterial vaginosis and some association is seen between the occurrence of the infection and shared sex toys, insertion of fingers in the vagina and so on.
So it would seem that this infection is not so much spread by sex as triggered by sex.
The risk of chronic bacterial vaginosis also seems to increase in women who smoke, who use vaginal douching, or have certain chemical intolerances to certain intimate hygiene products. Also use of certain types of IUDs can increase risk.
Antibiotics are known to cause depletion or imbalance in the friendly bacteria of the digestive or reproductive tract, so recent antibiotic use can also cause the problem.
So clearly there are a lot of factors that contribute to the infection and this is the reason why this infection is so common in the female population and why an estimated 1 in 3 women tend to develop BV at some point of time in their lives.
Why is this disease chronic?
It is known as chronic because it has a high rate of recurrence even when antibiotic treatment (usually Metronidazole or clindamycin) has been initiated. In one study about chronic bacterial vaginosis, it was found that when women were treated for their infection, as many as 58% women found that their BV recurred within a 12 month period and as many as 69% were found to have abnormal vaginal flora within that time.
So, researchers concluded that treatment was not successful in preventing the recurrence of the infection or at least of abnormal vaginal flora in a majority of women.
Can you ignore chronic bacterial vaginosis?
With the problem of recurrence and the fact that the symptoms of this infection are not very troublesome, BV is often regarded as more of a nuisance than a serious condition needed treatment. This is why home remedies can help many women keep BV in control. However there are certain complications that can arise from the infection such as increasing susceptibility to certain sexually transmitted infections. BV can cause pregnancy complications as well, so women should be aware of these.