Tag Archives: IUD

STI Awareness: Bacterial Vaginosis and Chancroid

Sexually transmitted infections can be caused by viruses, bacteria, protozoans, and even animals. Bacterial vaginosis and chancroid are both infections caused by bacteria, which means that they can be treated with antibiotics. While bacterial vaginosis only affects people with vaginas, chancroid disproportionately affects people with penises. You can seek diagnosis and treatment for bacterial vaginosis and chancroid at a Planned Parenthood health center, as well as health clinics, private health-care providers, and health departments.

Bacterial vaginosis is caused by an imbalance of bacteria species in the vagina. Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Bacterial vaginosis is caused by an imbalance of bacteria species in the vagina. Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Bacterial Vaginosis
Bacterial vaginosis seems to be most commonly caused by the bacteria species Gardnerella vaginalis. Scientists aren’t quite sure how this infection is caused, but risk seems to correlate with a change in sexual partners, having multiple sexual partners, douching, or using an intrauterine device; it can also occur in females who have never been sexually active. It is more common in pregnant women. There is no counterpart to this infection in males, although G. vaginalis can be found in their urethras; this raises the possibility that bacterial vaginosis can be sexually transmitted, in which case it could be directly transmitted between two females or indirectly transmitted from one female to another via a male.

Bacterial vaginosis seems to result from an imbalance in the vaginal flora (“flora” is a somewhat fanciful term for the bacteria that live in your body; under normal circumstances they are harmless and even beneficial). Vaginas usually are habitat to a population of bacteria called Lactobacillus, which produce hydrogen peroxide as a byproduct. When the number of Lactobacillus declines, G. vaginalis is able to move in on Lactobacillus’ old territory. The decrease in Lactobacillus and increase in G. vaginalis leads to a rise in the vagina’s pH. The new vaginal environment is less acidic and more alkaline; a vaginal pH of more than 4.5 is one criterion for the diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis. Another symptom includes a vaginal discharge that may smell somewhat fishy. There might also be genital itching or pain during urination. It is also possible not to have symptoms. Continue reading

IUDs: We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby

Remember the Dalkon Shield? Use the phrase “Dalkon Shield” and you conjure up all kinds of horror stories regarding the intrauterine device (IUD). Times have changed, and so has the IUD.

There are two types of IUDs available now, and both are considered very safe to use. Both IUDs are small, T-shaped, flexible plastic devices with threads at the end that are inserted into the uterus through the cervix by a health care professional.

The Mirena IUD is a hormonal device and the Paragard is a copper IUD. The Mirena IUD releases a small amount of progestin, which thickens cervical mucus, on a regular schedule and works by preventing sperm from joining an egg. This device is considered 99.8% effective in preventing pregnancy.

The copper IUD (Paragard) contains no hormones and also works by preventing sperm from joining an egg. Paragard is soft, flexible plastic, with copper wrapped around the ends of the T bar and the base of the T. This device is considered 99.2% effective. Continue reading