Pathophysiology

The normal vaginal environment protects women against vaginal infections. Under the influence of estrogen, vaginal epithelium cornifies to reduce the risk of infection. Vaginal discharge, comprised of exfoliated cells, cervical mucus, and colonized bacteria, cleans the vagina. The volume of discharge varies during pregnancy, during oral contraceptive use, with age, and at mid-menstrual cycle near ovulation. The normal pH of vaginal secretions, near 4, is maintained by Lactobacillus acidophius, diphtheroids, and Staphylococcus epidermidis. The low pH is toxic to many pathogens.

Any alteration in the vaginal environment allows for overgrowth of organisms that are normally suppressed. Increases in the vaginal pH are associated with increased vulvovaginitis. pH changes are caused by stress, changes in hormone level, sexual activity, pregnancy, phases of the menstrual cycle, contraceptive use, presence of foreign bodies or necrotic tissue, use of douches, or the use of antibiotics. An increase in glycogen production, associated with altered estrogen and progesterone levels, can also increase the risk of infection through increased adherence of C. albicans to epithelial cells.

Bacterial Vaginosis Facts

Bacterial Vaginosis Facts

This fact sheet is designed to provide you with information on Bacterial Vaginosis. Bacterial vaginosis is an abnormal vaginal condition that is characterized by vaginal discharge and results from an overgrowth of atypical bacteria in the vagina.

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