What is Gardnerella or Bacterial Vaginosis ?
Proliferation of the Gardnerella bacterium in a woman’s vagina causes Gardnerella vaginalis infection, or bacterial vaginosis. Various types of bacteria live in the vagina. While some of the bacteria are good, like lactobacilli; others are bad, such as Gardnerella. These bacteria live in the vagina in a balanced state without causing any adverse effects. The healthy balance of these bacteria is maintained by the slightly acidic pH of the vagina. However, when this pH changes and becomes alkaline in nature, it triggers the proliferation of the Gardnerella bacteria, which causes the unpleasant symptoms related to bacterial vaginosis. Read on to know all about Gardnerella or bacterial vaginosis, causes, symptoms, treatment, home remedies and prevention.
Causes of Gardnerella or Bacterial Vaginosis
The Gardnerella infection or bacterial vaginosis is caused by sexual contact with an infected individual or contaminated objects like towels, swimsuits and douches. A compromised immune system, deficiency of minerals and vitamins in the body, use of IUDs for birth control, pregnancy, child birth, stress and wearing tight fitting or synthetic clothes and undergarments can lead to Gardnerella infection or bacterial vaginosis too. This bacterial infection can also arise spontaneously in women who are sexually inactive.
Symptoms of Gardnerella or Bacterial Vaginosis
Common symptoms of Gardnerella infection or Bacterial Vaginosis are itching and burning sensation in the vagina, foul smelling greyish vaginal discharge, burning sensation during urination, and pain during sexual intercourse. Men can also contract the Gardnerella infection, which is generally asymptomatic.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Gardnerella or Bacterial Vaginosis
Gardnerella or Bacterial Vaginosis is usually diagnosed by a bacterial culture of the vaginal discharge, pap smear test and examination of the pH level of the vagina. To treat the symptoms of Gardnerella or bacterial vaginosis infection, doctors normally prescribe antibiotics like metronidazole or ampicillin, and creams or gels for application on affected areas. The patients are recommended to avoid drinking alcohol while taking these medications as alcohol can interact adversely with these drugs. It is for the same reason that patients suffering from Gardnerella or Bacterial Vaginosis are also advised to inform their doctor about any other medications, which they are taking at the same time. Individuals, especially pregnant women, should immediately seek medical attention if experiencing any symptoms of Gardnerella or Bacterial Vaginosis infection. This is because if left untreated, the Gardnerella bacteria multiplies rapidly and spreads through the urinary tract, and even affects the fallopian tubes and the uterus, to cause more severe infections.
Home Remedies for Gardnerella or Bacterial Vaginosis
There are many effective home remedies, which can be used to treat Gardnerella or bacterial vaginosis. Some home remedies which can be used along with the treatment prescribed by the doctor for treating Gardnerella or Bacterial Vaginosis include:
Yogurt: One of the most effective home remedies to cure Gardnerella or bacterial vaginosis is yogurt, especially natural yogurt. It is advisable to eat yogurt when experiencing Gardnerella or bacterial vaginosis, since yogurt changes the pH of the vagina and eventually rebalances it. Applying plain yogurt to the vagina can also help in redressing its bacterial imbalance and helps in treating Gardnerella or bacterial vaginosis. A tampon, soaked in yogurt, can be used in the vagina for the same purpose, but must be replaced every few hours. Even, using a cotton pad to cover the affected region with yogurt proves helpful in treating Gardnerella or bacterial vaginosis. These procedures with yogurt should be repeated several times a day for best results.
Milk: Milk is a source of lactic bacteria. A tampon soaked in milk can be inserted into the vagina and left there for at least two hours to relieve Gardnerella or bacterial vaginosis, effectively. Drinking milk with a teaspoon of turmeric every day can also prove useful home remedy in the treatment of Gardnerella or bacterial vaginosis.
Garlic: Garlic is an excellent home remedy owing to its powerful antibiotic properties. Not only does garlic prove helpful in relieving bacterial vaginosis, but also protects the vagina against other bacterial infections. By simply eating some cloves of garlic every day, one can experience the antimicrobial activity of this home remedy in their body. Women suffering from Gardnerella or bacterial vaginosis can wrap a few garlic cloves in gauze and insert it into their vagina to fight this bacterial infection. It is advisable to leave this remedy for no longer than 2 hours. Also, a paste of smashed garlic cloves can be prepared and applied on the affected area for relief from Gardnerella or bacterial vaginosis infection. However, this home remedy should be used very carefully, as garlic paste can cause dermal irritation. A mixture of garlic oil, coconut oil and vitamin E oil can also be applied on the vaginal area to eliminate the Gardnerella or bacterial vaginosis infection.
Tea Bags: Tea is a powerful antibiotic and astringent and is an excellent home remedy for treating Gardnerella or bacterial vaginosis. Though tea is astringent in nature, when applied on the body, it does not irritate the affected skin. So, tea can be used to heal the most sensitive parts of the body, like the eyes and vagina. When making a cup of tea, one can leave in the tea bag for up to 15 minutes, and then remove the bag and put it in the refrigerator to chill. Once chilled, this tea bag can be applied to the vagina to get rid of the unpleasant symptoms caused by Gardnerella or bacterial vaginosis.
Cold Compress: A cold compress can relieve the most unpleasant symptoms of bacterial vaginosis. For cold compress, several ice cubes can be wrapped in a clean piece of cloth or gauze, then delicately inserted into the vagina and left there for about a minute. The compress can be reapplied if needed. Also, the vaginal area can be washed with clean, cold water for relieving the symptoms of Gardnerella or bacterial vaginosis infection. One should always remember to boil the water first to eliminate all potential microbes and then chill it in the refrigerator to before using it to cleanse the vagina.
Apple Cider Vinegar: Gardnerella or bacterial vaginosis can also be treated with apple cider vinegar which is yet another effective home remedy. Apple cider vinegar aids in increasing the vaginal acidity and creating unpleasant conditions for survival of the unwanted bacteria. An individual can fill a large basin, big enough to sit in it, with water and add around 200 ml of apple cider vinegar in it. They then need to sit in the basin for at least 20 minutes for effective cleansing of the vagina. This procedure should be repeated daily for best results in Gardnerella or bacterial vaginosis.
Tea Tree Oil: Tea tree oil has powerful antibacterial properties which can help to kill unwanted species of bacteria in the vaginal area and also reduce the unpleasant smell occurring in Gardnerella or bacterial vaginosis. One can either rinse their vaginal area with a solution of tea tree oil and warm water, or prepare a bath of warm water, tea tree oil and white vinegar and soak themselves in it for about 30 minutes. These methods should be practiced daily for best results.
NOTE: Women should only try these home remedies after being diagnosed with Gardnerella vaginalis or Bacterial Vaginosis by a doctor. These home remedies should never be used to substitute any medications, which may be prescribed by the doctor.
Prevention of Gardnerella or Bacterial Vaginosis
To prevent Gardnerella or bacterial vaginosis infection, it is important to maintain good personal hygiene and avoid wearing tight clothes, especially during summers. These are the best ways to keep this infection at bay. Practicing safe sex measures like using condom and avoiding having multiple partners are other ways of preventing Gardnerella or bacterial vaginosis infection. People having Gardnerella infection should avoid having sexual intercourse until their condition is cured, as this can aggravate the symptoms. They should also ensure that their partner is treated as well to prevent the risk of re-infection. Douching frequently and stress should be avoided and a well-balanced, healthy diet should be consumed to minimize the risk of developing Gardnerella or Bacterial Vaginosis infection.
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