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Vaginal infections lower fertility

SALLY, who has been declared healthy and fit, could not understand why she still was not pregnant after trying for almost two years. She suffers from recurrent bacterial vaginosis (BV). A study reports that women with tubal infertility (involving the fallopian tube) were three times more likely to have BV than women with unexplained infertility. It is said that most women will have at least one form of vaginitis in their lifetime. The medical term vaginitis encompasses infection or inflammation of the vagina.

Vaginitis can be caused by several different micro-organisms, sometimes at the same time, as well as by hormonal changes, allergies, or irritations. Vaginitis could also be an underlying cause for other health problems and it is important to seek proper diagnosis for the appropriate treatment. Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common form of vaginal infection. It is a mild vagina infection caused by anaerobic bacteria that includes Gardnerella vaginalis that afflicts women of all ages. The vagina normally contains a lot of "good" bacteria, called lactobacilli and a few anaerobic bacteria.

Bacterial vaginosis is an overgrowth of anaerobes that are normally in the vagina and a decline or absence of the protective lactobacilli. Why the anaerobic bacteria overgrows and causes this infection is not fully understood but it seems that the health of the vaginal microflora vary over the menstrual cycle. Most women with BV have no symptoms but the condition is often discovered during a routine gynaecological examination. The most distinctive feature of BV is a discharge that is grey and watery and has a strong, unpleasant fishy smell, which is highly noticeable after intercourse. While BV is symptomless and therefore much disregarded, this condition does more than just affect fertility.

Having BV can increase a woman's susceptibility to HIV infection if she is exposed to the HIV virus. Although antibacterial treatment is generally effective at eradicating the bacteria that causes BV, there is still a high rate of recurrence which affects the patient's quality of life. It is shown that between five and 20 per cent of women will experience repeated infections within three months of treatment. With. repeated use of antibacterials, there is also the increased risk of resistance to the drugs.

Since studies show that the protective lactobacilli normally found in the healthy vagina is critical in the prevention and treatment of BV, it makes sense to ensure that their balance is maintained or restored. Trials using an oral probiotic supplement comprising Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus fermentum RC-14 found naturally in the vagina flora show that these two strains are able to restore the normal vaginal microflora due to their ability to adhere to the urogenital cells. This ability is thought to "crowd" out the anaerobes, thus impeding their growth. Lactobacillus GR-1 is also extremely good at inhibiting yeast that cause candidiasis, E. coli, the common culprit in urinary tract infection, as well as salmonella, shigella and bacteria that cause gut infections.

Lactobacillus RC-14 is able to knock out the competition as it produces hydrogen peroxide which is a potent bactericidal agent. Factors that are linked to increased incidence of BV are regular douching, the use of oral contraceptives, spermicides, intrauterine device and overuse of antibiotics. Rampant use of antibiotics is the main cause of upset in the body's bacterial flora. The action of antibiotics is not usually specific, so the bad ones along with the good bacteria are also destroyed. The regular consumption of these two clinically proven strains of probiotics - Lactobacillus GR-1 and Lactobacillus RC-14 - makes good sense to help a woman reduce her risk and lower the recurrence of vaginal infections..