The vaginal infection many women ignore
| Sheryl Kraft, HealthyWomen.org – Stop ignoring your vagina. It could be trying to tell you something.
If you’ve ever experienced thin, milky vaginal discharge that may also have a strong, fishy odor, you may have had bacterial vaginosis (BV).
It’s the most common vaginal infection in women of childbearing age.
In a recent survey of 1,969 women, conducted by HealthyWomen in partnership with Symbiomix Therapeutics, over 65 percent of respondents said they felt anxious, depressed, ashamed or embarrassed about BV.
But BV is so common that no woman needs to feel this way. It affects approximately 21 million U.S. women—nearly one-third of the female population.
Many women mistakenly confuse BV discharge with yeast infection discharge, which is odorless, thick and white.
If you thought you had a yeast infection only to later find out it was BV, you’re not alone. That same survey found that the majority of those surveyed—60 percent—said they thought that maybe a yeast infection was the cause of their abnormal discharge.
Among respondents who were eventually diagnosed by a healthcare professional, three-fourths were diagnosed with BV and only about 10 percent with a yeast infection.
Many women with vaginal discharge either don’t see their health care provider or wait a long time to do so.
Almost 40 percent of survey respondents waited one month or more to visit a health care professional about their abnormal vaginal discharge.
And, understandably, nearly 40 percent waited and hoped for their symptoms to go away.
Though we’ve all been there and done that, misdiagnosis often occurs when women try to self-diagnose, self-treat or completely ignore their abnormal discharge—hoping it will go away on its own. The only way to be sure you have BV is to visit your health care professional.
For more information on BV, check out the infographic and visit KeepHerAwesome.Com.
Read more. Medically reviewed by Jack D. Sobel, MD, Professor, and Division Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases, Harper University Hospital, Detroit, MI