Though many women are reluctant to discuss ’embarrassing’ health issues — especially those pertaining to gynecologic health — many don’t understand the impact these same issues can have on a woman’s overall health and quality of life. Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most prevalent gynecologic infection, affecting 21 million women in the U.S. ages 14 to 49 each year. Despite its prevalence, women may not understand that the total impact of BV can go beyond its serious physical health implications. The condition can greatly impact women’s emotional health as well, causing feelings of anxiety and embarrassment that can influence health, sex lives, dating and personal relationships.
A new national survey* of 304 U.S. women ages 18 to 49 who have been diagnosed with BV within the past two years highlights the lack of knowledge of BV and its associated risks as well as the serious impact of the condition on women.
What are the risks?
Common signs and symptoms associated with BV include unusual vaginal discharge that may be white or gray, watery, and may also have a strong fish-like odor. It can be difficult to tell common gynecologic infections from one another because the symptoms can be similar. However, if ignored or mistreated, BV increases the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, trichomoniasis and HIV. BV also increases the risk of pre-term birth and low birth weight, which can negatively impact the overall health of the baby; and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
Many women don’t understand the risk of these serious health concerns if BV is left untreated. In fact, according to the national survey, 76 percent of women with BV state they would have gone to see a healthcare professional sooner if they were aware of the risks associated with BV if left untreated. Additionally, not only did 62 percent of women mistake BV for a yeast infection prior to diagnosis, but 20 percent still believe that BV is a yeast infection.
How does BV impact a women’s overall health and quality of life?
The total impact of BV goes beyond the physical symptoms. BV can greatly impact women’s emotional health as well, influencing healthy sex lives, dating and personal relationships. Results from the national survey found that most women with BV feel self-conscious (68 percent) and embarrassed (66 percent) due to their condition. Furthermore, women with BV admit they have avoided certain everyday activities that may often be taken for granted, including being intimate with their spouse/partner (79 percent); working out (27 percent); going on a first date (17 percent); performing everyday activities (e.g., running errands, doing chores) (16 percent); and spending time with family/friends (15 percent).
A new online resource
A new online resource, www.KeepHerAwesome.com, features additional results from the Harris Poll national survey that was sponsored by Symbiomix Therapeutics, LLC, a Lupin Company, and the American Sexual Health Association (ASHA). The website also provides women and healthcare professionals with information on BV including downloadable resources, such as a BV fact sheet, discussion guides on how to talk with your partner and healthcare provider about BV, and Do’s and Don’ts for healthcare professionals to share with their patients.
*The survey was conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Symbiomix Therapeutics, LLC, a Lupin Company, and the American Sexual Health Association (ASHA) within the United States between September 14 and 29, 2017 among 304 U.S. women aged 18 to 49 who have been diagnosed by a healthcare professional with bacterial vaginosis (BV) within the past 2 years (“women with bacterial vaginosis”). Figures for age, income, race/ethnicity, region, education, and size of household were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.