Bacterial Vaginal Infections: The less common infections

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Bacterial vaginal infections can be of various types and are caused by different types of bacteria.

Bacterial vaginal infections: less common infections

In our intro to bacterial vaginal infections, we discussed bacterial vaginosis or BV. In this article, we shall shed some light on other bacterial vaginal infections:

1. Donovanosis or Granuloma Inguinale

This is an uncommon sexually transmitted disease mainly seen in tropical regions. Typically, it affects young adults with multiple sexual partners. The bacteria that causes it is called C. granulomatis.


Symptoms of Donovanosis:

After a period of 3 weeks to 3 months of contracting the infection, an ulcer appears in the vaginal or vulval area. The ulcer is tender, painful and reddish in colour.

Complications due to Donovanosis:

If the condition is left untreated it spreads to the regional lymph nodes from where it spreads to other parts of the body. Long standing genital ulcers may cause scarring and disfigurement of the external genitalia.

Diagnosis of Donovanosis:

A small swab from the ulcer is taken to the laboratory for microscopic analysis.

Treatment of Donovanosis:

Oral antibiotics like cotrimoxazole or azithromycin are effective. Healing occurs slowly depending on the size of the ulcer.

2. Chlamydia infection

This is also called lymphogranuloma venereum and is an uncommon sexually transmitted disease by the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. It affects males more than females. It is common in women in the age group of 18-25 having multiple partners.

Symptoms of Chlamydia:

Generally, Chlamydia infection is asymptomatic. A sore develops in the vulvo-vaginal area, which heals on its own and may even go unnoticed.  Sometimes a discharge may be noticed. The woman may have pain in the lower abdomen and slight bleeding after intercourse.

Diagnosis of  Chlamydia:

It is very difficult as symptoms are vague. Sometimes the physician may notice it during a gynaecological examination.

Treatment of Chlamydia:

Chlamydia infection is important to treat as it may cause damage to the woman’s reproductive organs if left untreated. This could cause complications when trying to get pregnant. Your doctor will prescribe a course of antibiotics.

3. Gonococcal vaginitis

This manifestation of gonorrhoea is caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It affects women in the reproductive age group.

Symptoms of Gonococcal vaginitis:

Initially, the cervix (lower part of the uterus) is affected and symptoms are mild and few. If neglected, it causes complications which include vulvo-vaginitis. Low backache, discomfort or pain in lower abdomen, pain during sexual intercourse and vaginal discharge is observed. It may be accompanied by fever and painful urination.

Diagnosis of Gonococcal vaginitis:

A gynaecological examination will reveal a tender red vulva. Cervix may be inflamed and tender. Complications include inflammation of Fallopian tubes, pelvic inflammatory disease and a pelvic abscess (collection of pus in pelvis). Infertility may result in neglected cases. Microscopic examination of the discharge demonstrates the offending bacteria.

Treatment of Gonococcal vaginitis:

A course of antibiotics like norfloxacin or ciprofloxacin is recommended after consulting a physician.

4. Syphilitic vaginitis

This is a sexually transmitted disease by the bacteria Treponema pallidum. It affects young women with multiple partners.

Symptoms of Syphilitic vaginitis:

An ulcer is seen in the vulva or cervix accompanied by a vague pain and discharge. The ulcer heals on its own.

Microscopic examination of the discharge confirms syphilis. Serum VDRL is a blood test helpful in screening for syphilis.

5. Tubercular infection

This is an extremely rare condition which can occur if pelvic tuberculosis is treated inadequately. Symptoms are itching, discharge and an ulcer or small growth in the area. Diagnosis is confirmed by examination of the discharge or a biopsy of the ulcer or growth. Local antibiotic ointment is prescribed but the whole regimen of oral anti-tubercular drugs must be completed.

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