Bacterial vaginosis or BV the most common cause of vaginal discharge
The most common cause of vaginal discharge in women is bacterial vaginosis or BV.
Among women with BV, 50%-75% are asymptomatic. Symptomatic women usually present with vaginal odor and/or an off-white thin discharge. BV can create complications in pregnancy, but up to half of cases resolve spontaneously. Treatment is usually with antibiotics, but BV will recur in 69% of women within 1 year. Other than treatment with antibiotics, are there alternative ways to manage this disease?
Vujic et al. conducted a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of an oral probiotic containing lactobacilli for the treatment of women with BV. In an article published in the European Journal of Obsterics and Gynecology 395 women received oral probiotic capsules and 149 women received placebo. They took the capsules for 6 weeks.
In all, 544 subjects were randomized (395 to probiotic and 149 to placebo). Adherence to medication was greater than 90% in both groups. Restitution of balanced vaginal microbiota was evident in 243 subjects (61.5%) in the probiotic group and 40 subjects (26.9%) in the placebo group were disease-free at 6 weeks. At 12 weeks, normal vaginal flora was present in 51% of subjects in the probiotic group but only in 21% of subjects taking placebo.
For nonpregnant women with mild symptoms, the use of oral probiotics may be a reasonable option. For women who have recurrent episodes of BV, data suggest that probiotics could prevent future episodes, but more data is needed to evaluate this hypothesis.