Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)

Bacterial vaginosis is an overgrowth of a particular kind of bacteria in the vagina, called Gardnerella.  The typical symptoms are vaginal irritation, greyish watery discharge and a fishy odor.  BV may crop up after taking antibiotics or anti-fungals.  Killing off bacteria or yeast in the vagina may make an environment that is more conducive to overgrowth of Gardnerella.

Medical treatment for bacterial vaginosis usually involves a drug called Flagyl or Metronidazole. This drug works well to eradicate the Gardnerella, or at least most of it, but doesn’t address the reason why Gardnerella was there in the first place and doesn’t restore the beneficial bacteria that keep the vagina a healthy place.  So bacterial vaginosis can become a recurring problem.

Permanent resolution of BV requires killing off the Gardnerella, supporting the immune system, healing the vaginal tissue and restoring probiotic bacteria.

Group B Strep in Pregnancy

Group B Strep (GBS), otherwise known as Streptococcus agalactiae, can cause serious, sometimes fatal infections in newborn babies. Pregnant women in Canada are routinely screened by a vaginal swab for Group B Strep at around 35-37 weeks gestation. Guidelines for Group B Strep positive women recommend IV antibiotics during labour to prevent infection for the baby.

A positive test for GBS is very common (25-30%). It isn’t very common for babies to contract it, especially if the mom does the IV antibiotics during labour. The rate of GBS infection is only approximately 0.4 babies per 1000 births, and only 10% of those babies infected die from it.

Your best bet is to do the IV antibiotics during labour. Prior to that, taking a good quality probiotic can help. Probiotics are the good bacteria that normally populate the vagina and which the baby will pick up at delivery. Keep your immune system healthy with diet, sleep, stress reduction, exercise and be sure to breast feed. Breastmilk, especially the first milk called colostrum, is full of antibodies that will help keep the baby healthy and fight infection.

You can also use a vaginal probiotic. There are specific strains of probiotics that benefit the vagina and help prevent Group B Strep from being able to take hold. Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Lactobacillus gasseri are two such strains.

Here is some relevant research, the second study specifically studied the effect of lactobacillus rhamnosus on streptococcus agalactiae (group B strep).

Is GSM Anything Like GMO?

Nope! GSM stands for Genitourinary Symptoms of Menopause. It’s a brand new diagnosis to encompass the symptoms women usually experience in the vagina and urinary tract with menopause. Menopausal and peri-menopausal women can tell you that there are some changes going on down there, and not exactly pleasant ones! The symptoms associated with GSM include overactive bladder, leakage, vaginal dryness and irritation, burning, pain or bleeding with intercourse, reduced arousal and libido, and recurrent bladder infections.

Having a new name for it doesn’t necessarily help you though. It’s the hormone changes associated with menopause that are responsible for these symptoms. While you can’t turn back the clock and reverse the hormones, there are herbs to keep hormones better balanced and nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin E and NAG among others that can help support healthy vaginal and urinary tract tissue.

Portman D, Gass M. and consensus panel. Genitourinary syndrome of menopause: new terminology for vulvovaginal atrophy from the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health and The North American Menopause Society. 1063-1068