Bacterial vaginosis is caused by an imbalance in the bacterial flora. It can be caused by various pathogenic bacteria. Probiotic treatments have been evaluated, particularly to prevent reoccurrences.
Bacterial vaginosis commonly affects adult women, occurring in 10% of women at least once, and 10 to 30% of women during pregnancy. The affliction manifests itself with local irritation and foul-smelling discharge. It is not sexually transmitted. Certain risk factors have been described, including douching, IUDs, and tobacco use. However, vaginosis can make acquiring sexually transmitted diseases, like herpes and HIV, more likely.
An imbalance in the vaginal flora
Bacterial vaginosis is primarily a reflection of an imbalance in the vaginal microbiota and not, strictly speaking, an infection. The vaginal ecosystem changes over the different stages of a woman’s life (menstrual cycle, pregnancies, puberty, menopause), and with sexual activity, contraception, and hygiene. In women in good health and of childbearing age (the period between puberty and menopause), it is dominated by certain kinds of bacteria (lactobacilli). In cases of vaginosis, it has been observed that there is a reduction in these “good” bacteria and a proliferation of “harmful” bacteria.
Antibiotics and probiotics
The effectiveness of the standard antibiotic treatment for bacterial vaginosis is limited. Because of the imbalance in vaginal flora, particularly the lack of “good” bacteria, vaginosis can reoccur. To restore equilibrium, the vaginal or oral administration of probiotics is increasingly proposed. The results obtained are uneven but very encouraging for certain strains of probiotics, which could be recommended in the treatment or prevention of reoccurrences of this disease.