Gardnerella Vaginalis; the Silent Uninvited Guest

Gardnerella Vaginalis has been around for a while. It is another name for bacterial vaginosis. It is a bacterium. It is one of a number of bacteria including Mycoplasma hominis and several other anaerobic organisms known to cause the bacterial vaginosis syndrome.

This is characterized by a fishy smelling and white vaginal discharge, this is according to the “Harrison’s Principle of Internal Medicine.” Among women of child bearing age it will most commonly cause vaginal infection, this according to the Centers for Disease Control. (CDC) Lactobacilus sp is a bacterium that produces lactic acid andhydrogen peroxide and maintains an acidic pH in the vagina, thus providing a natural defense against the proliferation of unhealthy bacteria. The lactobacillus sp bacterium is normal in the vagina of a healthy pre-menopausal woman. A decrease in this healthy bacteria leads to bacterial vaginosis.

Douching spermicides containing 5% or 12% nonoxynol-9, broad spectrum antibiotics, multiple sex partners, overused or retained tampons, inter uterine contraceptive devices and contraceptive sponges are factors that could contribute to the decrease in lactobacillus sp, replacing it with high concentrations of anaerobic bacteria like Prevotella sp and Mobiluncus sp. Gardnerella Vaginalis results as a change from healthy bacteria, lactobacillus sp to unhealthy anaerobic bacteria. Vaginal fluid pH rises due the disturbance in bacterial flora. Gardnerella Vaginalis is commonly mistaken for a yeast infection and many women end up using over the counter medicine meant for yeast infection not bacterial vaginosis. Regular check ups are advised for accurate diagnosis and correcttreatment. This is especially true for sexually active persons, those with multiple sexual partners and during pregnancy. Gardnerella Vaginalis does affect men too but they generally do not display symptoms but regular testing is advisable.

Due to hormonal changes during pregnancy, vaginal pH is bound to change, making one susceptible to bacterial vaginosis. The role that sexual activity plays is not quite clear seeing as a woman who has never been sexually active, can contract the Gardner Vaginalis. This may be due to the fact that, women with multiple sex partners are at a higher risk of contracting bacterial vaginosis especially with a recent diagnosis of human papillomavirus(HPV) genital infection, which is a sexually transmitted disease. Contaminated cloth for example, a towel or a bathing suit that is wet is also prime ground for infection.

Around 50% of women have gardnerella Vaginalis in their vaginal flora but will never develop a full blown infection. Regular testing for bacterial vaginosis is highly advised especially in pregnant women. Long standing untreated bacterial vaginosis can cause: premature rupture of membranes, preterm labor and sometimes delivery, chorioaminionitis, salpinqitis, post-cesarean endometritis and post postpartum endometritis. It is also known to cause pelvic inflammatory disease.

The hormonal changes that come with being pregnant, engaging in sexual activity, engaging in sexual activity with more than one partner, exposing yourself to sexually transmitted diseases while at it. Cleaning of the vagina (douching) excessively, sharing of towels bathing suits and so much more. All this acts put you as a woman at greater risk of suffering from bacterial vaginosis.