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 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
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Tagged antibiotic, antibiotics, bacteria, bacterial vaginosis, chancroid, circumcision, discharge, douche, douching, erythromycin, G. vaginalis, Gardnerella vaginalis, H. ducreyi, Haemophilus ducreyi, intrauterine device, IUD, Lactobacillus, lesion, lymph node, lymph nodes, metronidazole, pelvic inflammatory disease, PID, pregnancy, pus, sexually transmitted disease, sexually transmitted diseases, sexually transmitted infection, sexually transmitted infections, sore, STD, STDs, STI, STIs, ulcer, uncircumcised, vagina, vaginal bacteria, vaginal discharge, vaginal flora, yogurt
Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the bacteria species that causes gonorrhea, is pictured here in a photograph taken with a scanning electron microscope. Projecting from the organism’s surface are many pili, powerful appendages that enable the bacteria to adhere to human cells. Image from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.
April is STD Awareness Month, but this blog has sought to increase your awareness of sexually transmitted infections on a monthly basis. So far in 2011 we’ve pointed the spotlight at human papillomavirus, barrier methods, and herpes. This month’s installment will focus on gonorrhea, colloquially known as “the clap,” a common sexually transmitted infection caused by sneaky bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It is spread by vaginal, anal, and oral sex, and can infect certain cells in the throat, mouth, rectum, urethra, or cervix. It can also be transmitted manually to infect the eye. If you are sexually active, you can reduce risk of transmission by consistently and correctly using latex barriers such as condoms and dental dams.
Four out of five females infected with gonorrhea do not experience symptoms – males, however, usually do, but they can be mild and therefore easy to overlook. Symptoms can appear within a month, and might include painful or frequent urination, vaginal or penile discharge, painful bowel movements, itching, or sore throat. Additionally, females can experience abdominal pain, fever, irregular menstruation, or bleeding between periods. In pregnant women, untreated gonorrhea infections can lead to complications such as premature labor or stillbirth. The infection can also be passed from mother to infant during delivery. Continue reading
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Tagged antibiotic resistant gonorrhea, antibiotics, antigenic variation, ARG, bacteria, bacterium, DGI, disseminated gonococcal infection, epididymitis, evolution, fimbriae, flagella, flagellum, GC, gonococci, gonococcus, gonorrhea, HIV, immune response, immune system, microbe, microorganism, N. gonorrhoeae, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Opa protein, Opa proteins, pelvic inflammatory disease, PID, pili, pilus, retractile pili, sexually transmitted disease, sexually transmitted infection, STD, STI, sulfa drugs, sulfanilamide, sulfonamides, the clap, type IV pili