By Caitlin Tilley, health reporter for Dailymail.Com
10:04 p.m. on November 29, 2023, updated at 10:30 p.m. on November 29, 2023
- Researchers examined human cells lining the vagina and found vital clues
- In BV, bacteria release enzymes that partially destroy protective molecules
- READ MORE: Sexual health doctor reveals what you should NEVER do during sex
Doctors believe they have finally solved one of the most perplexing medical problems that have long baffled women’s health experts.
It is well known that bacterial vaginosis – the most common vaginal infection – is linked to an increased risk of serious complications during pregnancy and even sexually transmitted infections.
Suffering from the condition regularly — which happens when healthy vaginal bacteria grows out of control — could double your risk of miscarriage, studies suggest.
But until now, experts haven’t figured out why.
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego believe they have discovered how the bacteria disrupts vaginal health.
By looking at vaginal cells under a microscope, they found that certain bacterial species dismantled protective molecules on the surface of cells lining genital tissue – called epithelial cells.
This disrupts vital processes that help damaged cells repair themselves and interferes with bacterial flora.
If the balance between healthy and unhealthy insects is out of balance, it can damage delicate internal tissues, ultimately leading to problems during pregnancy.
Study author Amanda Lewis, professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at UC San Diego, said: “The fact that we were able to replicate some of the effects of vaginosis bacteria suggests that we may be on the right track to finding a common cellular origin for the various complications associated with this disease.
Studying the surface of vaginal epithelial cells at this level of detail could make it easier to diagnose bacterial vaginosis, the researchers said.
They also suggest that looking for telltale changes in cells could also allow doctors to identify women at risk of complications such as premature birth.
The results were published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
Although BV is not an STI, it increases the risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection.
This is because the infection erodes the natural barrier of the vagina, making it easier for germs to enter the body during sex.
BV, which affects about one in three women at some point in their lives, is caused by a change in the delicate bacterial balance in a woman’s vagina.
The most common symptom is a fishy-smelling discharge, especially after sex.
There may also be a change in the color or texture of the discharge, for example becoming gray or watery.
But half of women with BV have no symptoms.
If a woman suspects she has BV, she should visit her GP or sexual health clinic to confirm it is not an STI.
Once diagnosed – via a cotton “smear” – BV is usually treated with prescribed antibiotic tablets, gels or creams.
Those who experience it more than twice in six months will need treatment for up to six months.
BV can be avoided by using only water to wash the genital area and opting for showers rather than baths.
Perfumed soaps, vaginal deodorants, douching, strong detergents and even tobacco increase the risk of developing this disease in women.
BV is more common in people who are sexually active, who have recently changed partners, or who have “the snake.”
If “caught” during pregnancy, BV can lead to premature birth or miscarriage.
Gn En gealth