Gardnerella, short for gardnerella vaginalis and also known as bacterial vaginosis, is a condition that results in a gray/yellow discharge from the vagina that smells somewhat like fish. The condition is caused by a bacterial infection of the genital tract and is the most common form of bacterial vaginitis. Along with the discharge, gardnerella also causes itchiness in the vagina coupled with a burning sensation during urination.
If you suspect that you are suffering from bacterial vaginitis then diagnosis will occur using a wet mount preparation using a sample of the vaginal discharge. When observed under a microscope with a saline solution the epithelial cells will show a granulated effect.
Fortunately gardnerella is easy to treat. Here we will look at some of the common treatments used:
Oral consumption of metrodinazole (Flagyl) takes 7 days to cure the problem. It is recommended that any sexual partners also follow the same course of treatment. As well as preventing the infection to effect the male partners, this can also reduce the chances of recurrence in women.
This medicine is also taken orally for 6 days. However it will not work to cure the anaerobic variety of gardnerella.
Vaginal Clindamycin Cream/Vaginal Metronidazole Gel
These two creams can also be used as an effective treatment for gardnerella.
If you suspect you have gardnerella then cease all sexual activity – do not rely on contraceptives for protection. Though unpleasant, this is fortunately a completely curable condition, so ensure that you get medical treatment as soon as possible and you’ll protect yourself and your partners.
Causes and Preventative Methods
While curing gardnerella is of course important – preventing the condition from occurring in the first place – it is even more preferable to be able to prevent it from arising in the first place. To help protect against gardnerella it can help to understand the causes of the condition – they may not be what you expect.
For instance sexual activity has not been directly linked to gardnerella – though it is believed to be an underlying factor as it seems to occur most regularly in highly sexually active women. Thus it is of course recommended that you use contraception in order to avoid gardnerella, and that you cease sexual activity once you are aware of the condition to avoid spreading it. However it means that the infection should not be seen as an indication of unfaithfulness.
So what can contribute to the problem? Well gardnerella is caused by the destruction of healthy bacteria and this can have many causative factors. For instance it can be caused by some broad-spectrum antibiotics, so consult with your doctor if you think this is the cause. Likewise tampons from cotton and absorbent materials can cause irritation as they can absorb the vagina’s natural moisture causing it to become dry. Consider changing your tampons if you believe this to be the case. Contraceptives too can also be a factor if you are using contraceptive sponges, diaphragms or intrauterine devices. Vaginal douching can also alter the usual balance of bacteria.
Finally pregnancy seems to also play a role and the Center for Disease Control has found that the problem is more prevalent in pregnant women. If you are pregnant and suffering from gardnerella then it is particularly important to seek treatment quickly as it can cause many complications for the bay such as premature delivery, ectopic pregnancy or low birth weight.