Gardnerella — Bacterial Vaginosis
Vaginal Gardnerella is the only species of bacteria Gardnerella. This microorganism is conditionally pathogenic and in norm is present in the vagina in a small quantity. This is a facultative anaerobic bacteria and is able to reproduce itself very rapidly destroying the normal vaginal microflora. The microorganism is resistant to many types of antibiotics and that makes the therapy more difficult.
Gardnerella causes pathology which is called gardnerellosis.
There has been little scientific study of the disease, that is why it is classified as bacterial vaginosis and as a sexually transmitted infection. A clinical picture is developing when Bacterial Vaginosis begins to dominate other microorganisms in the vaginal microflora.
Causes of Gardnerella in men and women
Men can not be infected by Gardnerella in a natural way as there are no such bacteria in a male body. It can be transmitted in a sexual intercourse. A man may get infected only if the immune protection is not strong enough.
Causes of Gardnerella in women:
- chronic infections disrupting the bacterial balance of the body;
- hormonal imbalance;
- excessive mental work loads and fatigue;
- intensive physical loads;
- primary and secondary immunodeficiency;
- wearing synthetic underwear;
- promiscuous sexual activity;
- sex without using the condoms to prevent sexually transmitted infections;
- diet poor in the products increasing the level of lactic acid bacillus;
- pathologies of the urogenital system (especially sexually transmitted);
- a long-term use of antibacterial medications;
- excessive personal hygiene (vaginal douching abuse);
- hormonal contraception.
Symptoms of Gardnerella in women
Half of the patients with diagnosis gardnerellosis do not have any clinical symptoms. However, being a carrier, they become the source of infection for men and they pose a danger to their own newborn babies.
The main symptoms of the disease:
- copious vaginal discharge (white or yellowish);
- foul-smelling discharge and unpleasant smell in the vagina (a fishy smell);
- subjective sensations (itching and burning);
- burning shortly after or during urination.
Unlike vaginal thrush (vaginal candidiasis), discharge in gardnerellosis is not cheese-like. A woman also feels discomfort during sex or after it.
Symptoms of Gardnerella in men
Almost all men infected by women are asymptomatic carriers of the disease and often they do not even suspect that they are infected. It is explained by the fact that the microorganism affects squamous epithelial cells which are found in the vagina but they are in scarce supply in men.
Male gardnerellosis occurs only when there is a significant decrease in immunity. The disease has the same symptoms as urethritis:
- discomfort during urination;
- signs of inflammation (edema and hyperemia);
- discharge from the urethra;
- burning and itching in the urinary tract.
These signs are quite mild and completely manifest only in the presence of additional disorders.
In some cases, prostatitis (inflammation of the prostates gland) or balanoposthitis (inflammation of the penis glans and foreskin) occur. However, these conditions have very mild symptoms.
Gardnerella in pregnancy
In pregnant women gardnerellosis is often diagnosed accidentally during a planned routine check-up. These microorganisms can not penetrate through amniotic membranes and placenta to infect the fetus. However, the fetus is still exposed to potential danger.
The influence of Gardnerella on the fetus in pregnancy includes premature delivery caused by the inflammation in the female genitals. During the delivery there is a risk of infecting the baby and development of pneumonia caused by Bacterial Vaginosis. However such dangerous situations occur only in advanced infections.
Complications of Gardnerella infection?
Frequently gardnerellosis is complicated by inflammatory processes in different organs of the urogenital system. In men this happens rare but still there is a risk.
Complications characteristic only for women:
- spontaneous uterine bleeding;
- premature delivery and miscarriage;
- inflammation of the female genital system after the delivery;
- infertility if the uterus is affected.
Due to the dangerous complications of gardnerellosis, it is necessary to visit a doctor immediately.
Diagnosis of gardnerellosis
In men the disorder is found usually during routine check-ups, when the symptoms occur (which is very rare) or if a partner has frequent relapses of the disease.
Diagnosis in women is more common and it includes the detection of an excessive amount of microorganisms.
Methods of diagnostics:
- measuring the level of discharge acidity;
- detection of specific inclusions under a microscope;
- amine test;
- polymerase chain reaction;
- serological methods (IFA).
If there is a clinical representation and, at least, two positive results of these tests, then gardnerellosis diagnoses is given. This diagnosis is also made if there are three positive results of the tests, even if a patient is asymptomatic.
As this disease is often accompanied by other pathologies, tests for sexually transmitted diseases and bacterial inflammations of the urogenital system are also carried out.
How to treat gardnerellosis?
For an effective therapy and to reduce the risk of relapses, the treatment consists of two stages.
- Fight against bacteria
First of all, Gardnerella treatment is aimed at bacteria destruction and inhibiting its growth. As the microorganism is resistant to many medications, the most effective medication Metronidazole is indicated.
Therapeutic regimen in women with Gardnerella differs only by the way of administration. Suppositories and special ointments are indicated for women. To treat Gardnerella in men or in neglected cases tablets are used. Antibacterial treatment lasts from the week to 10 days.
- Restoration of a normal flora
The second stage of treating Bacterial Vaginosis in women is more complicated, but if to ignore it, there is a risk of a relapse. To populate the vagina with useful bacteria, special topical ointments are indicated, for example, Lactobacterin.
The treatment of Gardnerella vaginalis in pregnancy is performed only by the doctor, self-treatment is strictly prohibited. It is not permitted to use Metronidazole in the early stages of pregnancy. The treatment starts in the later stages and it is indicated only in case of disease aggravation.
Additionally, it is highly recommended to follow a special diet excluding hot food, alcohol, fried food, sweets and spices. It is allowed to eat any dairy products (especially, butter milk and natural yogurt).
To eliminate the symptoms and to treat Gardnerella in men and women, immunity enhancement is required. To increase the body’s resistance immunomodulators are indicated. These medications are not for use in pregnancy.
If one partner is infected, diagnostic and treatment are required for both partners. It is necessary to abstain from any sexual interaction until the end of the treatment.
To monitor the process of the recovery, in a week after the end of the treatment, a patient undergoes diagnostic tests for causative agents. Repeated diagnosis is performed in a week after the recovery to confirm that there is no risk of a relapse.
To prevent the development of the disease in men, it is necessary to maintain a healthier immune system and use condoms during sexual intercourses.
Women should abstain from excessive vaginal douching and be careful with the use of antibiotics, hormonal medications and oral contraception. It is necessary to maintain proper personal hygiene but within reasonable bounds. If a woman notices vaginal discharge, she should immediately visit a doctor.