'Minor infection' impacts women's social lives

September 11, 2013, Monash University
Credit: ThinkStock

(Medical Xpress)—New research has shown that a common vaginal infection, often regarded as minor, is having a major effect on women's lives, with recurrent sufferers avoiding sex and even social activities.

In a study published in PLOS One, researchers at Monash University, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Sexual Health Centre and The University of Sydney interviewed aged 18-45 with recurrent bacterial vaginosis (BV), an infection caused by an imbalance in vaginal flora. They found the impacts went beyond .

Approximately one in three Australian women will experience BV at some point in their lives. Symptoms include an abnormal 'fishy' odour and increased vaginal discharge. Longer term it has been associated with increased risks of miscarriage and , and susceptibility to HIV or other STDs. It is more common in women who have sex with women, who have a one in two chance of experiencing the condition.

Dr Jade Bilardi of the Monash University Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine and Melbourne Sexual Health Centre led the study.

"Our study is the first to show how much recurrent BV is impacting on the lives of women in Australia," Dr Bilardi said.

"Our findings show that while BV is often considered a minor and common vaginal condition by clinicians, its recurrent nature and the substantial impact it can have on women's social, sexual and emotional lives means that women's experiences can extend far beyond the physical symptoms."

Unfortunately for many women, even after treatment with antibiotics, BV often comes back again within 12 months. The new study has shown that women who experience recurrent BV are susceptible to poor self-esteem, sexual withdrawal, self-isolation and feelings of self-blame as a result of having recurrent BV.

Researchers found that the symptoms of BV - in particular abnormal odour – left many women feeling too embarrassed and self-conscious to engage in normal sexual activities. Some women even reported avoiding social or recreational activities or sitting too close to others at work or social events for fear that others would notice their odour.

While a third of women were not overly concerned by having recurrent BV, describing it as no worse than thrush, the remainder felt it had a substantial impact on them. The degree to which it impacted on women physically, emotionally, sexually and socially often depended on the frequency of episodes and severity of symptoms.Overall, recurrent BV left many women feeling ashamed, dirty, unattractive, insecure and confused and frustrated.

Explore further: Over-the-counter test for vaginal infection just as good as the doctor’s

More information: dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0074378

Related Stories

Over-the-counter test for vaginal infection just as good as the doctor’s

April 18, 2012
For women with symptoms of the most common vaginal infection, a new study in the Journal of Adolescent Health finds that an over-the-counter diagnostic test may be just as accurate as having a test performed by a clinician.

TAVI feasible in bicuspid aortic valve

September 2, 2013
Transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) is feasible in patients with bicuspid aortic valve, according to research presented at ESC Congress 2013 today by Dr. Timm Bauer from Germany. The findings open up a new treatment ...

Treatment helps sex stage a comeback after menopause

June 5, 2013
A satisfying sex life is an important contributor to older adults' quality of life, but the sexual pain that can come after menopause can rob women and their partners of that satisfaction. Treatment can help restore it, shows ...

Recommended for you

Placental accumulation of flame retardant chemical alters serotonin production in rats

January 22, 2018
A North Carolina State University-led research team has shown a connection between exposure to a widely used flame retardant chemical mixture and disruption of normal placental function in rats, leading to altered production ...

Marijuana use does not lower chances of getting pregnant

January 22, 2018
Marijuana use—by either men or women—does not appear to lower a couple's chances of getting pregnant, according to a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.