Gardnerella vaginalis is an affliction of the female reproductive system that is more disruptive to everyday life than it is dangerous. It is an infection of the vagina, most commonly by a strain of bacteria known as Gardnerella vaginalis, but it can also involve anaerobic bacteria. The most common form of vaginal infections in sexually active adult females, the condition can lead to a yellowish or grayish discharge from the vagina that often has fishy odor.
Most women tend to contract Gardnerella vaginalis through sexual contact, although this is not always the case. On occasion, women get the infection without sexual transmission. In these instances, however, the infection does not have any of the typical symptoms, including the fishy or musty smell and the colored discharge. No matter the source, this type of infection generally does not cause irritation in or around the vagina.
To properly diagnose a case of Gardnerella vaginalis, a medical professional carries out a wet mount preparation made up of a saline solution and the vaginal discharge. Clue cells, which are epithelial cells with a dented outline, indicate the presence of the infection. The bacteria cause this granulated look by attaching to the surface of the cells. In many cases, there will be enough of the bacteria in the sample for them to be found floating unattached. If the Gardnerella vaginalis infection is present, not many white blood cells or lactobacilli are seen in the sample.
Once the Gardnerella vaginalis has been diagnosed, a women has several treatment options. The first option, typically, is a prescription for oral metronidazole, which can be taken for up to seven days by both adult and teenage patients. A medical professional might also ask to treat the woman's sexual partners with the same medication in order to prevent a recurrence of the infection.
For some women, metronidazole isn't the best choice. That could because they are alcohol drinkers, and alcohol reduces the effects of the medication. Metronidazole is also not the right choice for patients with certain blood and central nervous conditions. Women who are in the early stages of pregnancy or who are lactating should also avoid taking this medication.
Another choice for treating Gardnerella vaginalis is cephradine, which can be taken orally for up to six days. It works to remove the Gardnerella vaginalis from the vagina and end the infection's symptoms. One downside of this prescription, however, is that it will not treat an anaerobic infection.