Since the subject ‘bacterial infection in women’ is gender specific, it pertains to bacterial infection of the genital tract in women. Bacteria are single cell tiny living organisms. They are visible only under microscope. Not all bacteria are harmful. Many good bacteria act as catalysts, for various body processes such as digestion of food, metabolism of vitamins, as well as destroying disease causing organisms.
Lactobacilli are good bacteria residing in the vagina. They maintain acidic environment in the vagina. Acidic pH of vagina discourages and causes hindrance for disease causing bacteria that are trying to enter the genital tract. When the balance between good bacteria and infectious bacteria is disrupted, bacterial infection in women sets in.
Causes Of Bacterial Infections In Women?
Bacterial infection in the genital tract, especially in the vagina is a common ailment amongst women. Bacterial infection leads to inflammation of vagina and other genital organs. It is also known as bacterial vaginitis. At least 4 out of 10 women may have suffered from bacterial infection some time in their entire life. Women who are sexually active are prone to bacterial infection in vagina. However, it is not a thumb rule; women who are not sexually active can also get infected.
Any condition that causes imbalance in the bacterial flora of the vagina as well as its acidic environment can be a contributory factor for bacterial infection in women’s genital tract. Weak immune system as well as poor hygiene encourages the infectious bacteria to grow uninterruptedly in the vagina. Consumption of excess of sugar may also embolden the bacteria to invade the genital tract.
Vaginal douching, use of creams, soaps and lubricants may change the pH which may favor the infection. Wearing tight undergarments, and trousers, prevents proper circulation of air. It encourages the infectious bacteria to multiply at a faster rate. Continuous use of antibiotics, diabetes, steroids, smoking, HIV infection and chronic diseases can weaken immune system leading bacterial infection in women.
Symptoms Of Bacterial Infection In Women
Most often, the symptoms of bacterial infection in women are: itching in the vaginal area. Together with itching there may be associated burning pain in the vagina. The whole of vagina becomes inflamed and red. It is tender to touch. The lips of vagina called labia minora and labia majora are also swollen and painful. There may be associated burning urination as the urine opening is very adjacent to the vagina opening.
Foul fishy smelling discharge from the vagina is characteristic feature of bacterial vaginitis. The color of discharge may be yellow, green or brown. The inguinal glands become swell. Painful intercourse with occasional bleeding from the vagina may be present. Associated pain in lower abdomen is felt when the condition worsens.
Here are some of the common bacterial infections in the genital tract of the women.
Gonorrhea: it is a sexually transmitted disease. The disease is spread when a male suffering from gonorrhea infects the woman during coitus. Bacterial organism responsible for gonorrhea infection is called Neisseria gonorrhea. Often the symptoms are so mild that women may ignore the condition. A woman may experience burning urination with frequency at night. The discharge is yellow and full of pus. Inflammation and redness of vagina, bleeding during intercourse and abdominal cramps may be other concomitant symptoms.
Chlamydia: it is caused by Chlamydia trachomatis organisms. It is also sexually transmitted disease affecting the genital organs of a woman. The symptoms are may include excess of mucus discharge. There may be itching in the vaginal area. Pain while urinating may be present with Chlamydia bacterial infection in women.
Syphilis and bacterial vaginosis are other bacterial infection in women.
When not treated in time, all the above bacterial infections can lead to a condition which is commonly called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). It is a serious disease and it is one of the main reasons for infertility.
The organs affected in PID include fallopian tube, ovaries, the cervix and the uterus. Symptoms are same, such as painful urination, burning and itching in vaginal area.
Pain in the lower abdomen, abnormal discharge from vagina and systemic symptoms such as fever, chills, vomiting are present.