How is bacterial vaginosis diagnosed?

The first sign of bacterial vaginosis is a discharge with foul odor following the sexual intercourse but depending on the woman’s health and severity of this disease, more symptoms may appear. These include stomach cramps, swelling, itching and irritation, while in cases of severe bacterial vaginosis there will be large discharges with intense smell. All these signs should trigger an immediate response and the best thing to do is consult a specialist.

Taking over the counter drugs might look like an easy and fast solution, but the truth is this could prove very risky. The problem resides in the fact that someone with no medical background can’t diagnose the disease correctly, or the stages so she will be able to choose the right medication. A drug might have the opposite effect, worsen the affliction and hurt the immune system in the process. That’s why you shouldn’t jump to conclusions and choose self medication over a professional advice, because you take huge chances.

The doctor will perform a few tests, but first will ask the patient several questions that will help him assess the gravity of the bacterial vaginosis, if this is the case.  He will want to know if any changes were experienced lately and any record of sexually transmitted infections. Once this part is complete, a pelvic exam will follow with the purpose of investigating the vaginal lining and cervix. A speculum will be used during the exam to collect discharge samples that will be used later to test for acidity, smell and the presence of clue cells. Chlamydia and gonorrhea infections will also be revealed by analyzing these discharge samples.

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By doing this the doctor will be able to rule out yeast vaginitis and trichomoniasis, while detecting under the microscope any signs of bacterial vaginosis. This is called a clue test, after the name of the cells revealed, which are nothing more but vaginal cells covered with bacteria. Patients suffering of this affliction have less lactobacilli as well which leads to a significant increase in pH, that will surpass the 4.5 limit, while the normal value range between 3.8 and 4.2.

The last test that must be performed in order to determine if a patient is indeed suffering of bacterial vaginosis is called whiff test. This requires potassium hydroxide liquid, with a drop of this substance used in conjunction with the discharge so it will trigger the fishy odor. If this happens, the doctor can be certain of his diagnose and start treatment for bacterial vaginosis.