Strep Vagina – It’s potential
This article was written by women's health expert and gynecologist Dr. Alyssa Dweck medically checked.
We're going to start this with a little story.
I have a friend of a friend who would get chronic yeast infections. Let's call her Polly.
Polly often got them after she had sex. Which was common. Her diet of coffee, cheese sticks, and cigarettes definitely didn't help her system stay balanced either.
Once she thought she had a yeast infection and turned to her treatments and creams.
None of them worked.
After standing in vaginal complaints for too long, Polly finally went to the doctor.
After wiping and testing, Polly's doctor determined that this time she didn't have a yeast infection after all.
She had strep infection. In her vagina.
Similar to strep throat but in her vagina !!!
The strep strain that causes strep throat (Group A) and the normally discussed vaginal strep (Group B strep) are not the same strain.
I'm a little ashamed to admit that when I heard this, I burst into laughter. Given the context and the absurdity, I couldn't help but crash.
After I recovered myself, I started asking questions.
As a reproductive health writer and educator, I have made it my mission to find out exactly the how, what, and why of Strep Vaginas.
When in the country of work
In my work as a birthing doula, I have worked with many clients who had group B Strep or GBS bacteria in their vagina. If they give birth in a hospital, it usually means giving a round of an antibiotic, usually penicillin, every four hours.
Around 25% of women have GBS in her vagina , but it is rare for this to cause pregnancy or baby complications, and even less so when antibiotics are used.
Despite knowing this, it was still a shock to me that someone might have strep infection in their vagina. Logically, of course, it makes sense.
Understand strep bacteria
If you are familiar with that Vaginal floraand the microbiomes we have in our bodies, it's probably no surprise that we host a wide variety of different types of bacteria, including strep.
There are three different groups of strep bacteria: A, B and C.
For the most part, humans live peacefully with strep bacteria in their bodies. Occasionally it can get out of hand and cause infection.
Many of us have had sore throats, usually caused by group A. Group B is the most dangerous to infants, although it can cause skin, blood, and bone infections in adults.
Group C infections are rare because they are usually transmitted through contact with animals such as cows or horses.
How can it affect your vagina?
Group A strep is a recognized cause of vaginitis in prepubescent girls. Now Researcher state that it can affect adults with vaginas as well. Often times, due to a lack of research and understanding, these women are mistakenly diagnosed with vulvovaginal candidiasis. Another type of bacterial imbalance.
Bacteria are friendly and like to move around. If someone in your household, especially someone you are familiar with, is a Group A Strep carrier, they may be able to convey it to you.
Given the high prevalence of group B strep, this is usually not attributed to infection. Even if it is present in women vulvovaginal symptoms. Doctors are even more careful when making a diagnosis based on group B strep, because levels can vary during a woman's menstrual cycle and other hormonal changes, such as pregnancy.
Vaginal strep infections are rare. Given symptoms like abnormal discharge, swelling, and redness that are similar to other vaginal infections, it can be nearly impossible to diagnose a strep vagina without a culture of bacteria. Even in a culture, strep isn't usually the first thing a doctor will test for.
That said, as with Polly, often people won't find out until the first few treatments don't work and symptoms get worse.
Technically known as Strep A or B vaginitis, this is not a sexually transmitted disease. However, in a small sample, the researchers found that sexual contact can increase transmission of GBS in heterosexual couples.
Who gets strep vagina?
The risk of GBS infections increases with age. As with any infection, you are at greater risk if you are immunocompromised or not living the healthiest lifestyle. Like our friend Polly.
Group A strep colonization is more common in people with others Skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, or open wounds. Strep bacteria can also enter the urethra and cause pain Urinary tract infection.
How it is treated
Most likely with antibiotics. Even if symptoms start out mild, strep infections can be serious and potentially life-threatening if they spread to the blood and other areas of the body.
The type of antibiotic prescribed will depend on what type of strep is present and what other health factors your doctor may consider.
Oh and about Polly?
Thanks for the question.
She took antibiotics and she and her vagina returned to their normal, healthy selves.
Facts verified by:
Dr. Alyssa Dweck
Alyssa Dweck MS, MD, FACOG is a practicing gynecologist based in Westchester County, New York. She takes care of women of all ages; She gave birth to thousands of babies. She is proficient in minimally invasive surgery and has a particular interest and expertise in women's sexual health and medical sex therapy. She is a Top Doctor in New York Magazine and Westchester Magazine. Dr. Dweck has co-authored three books, including the most recent publication, The Complete A to Z For Your V.
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Natasha's passion for reproductive health began at the age of fourteen when she was present at the birth of her youngest sister. Her incredible experiences as a birthing doula gave her insights into the magical realm of childbirth, pregnancy and everything in between. Your role as an obstetrician is her way of serving as an activist. She uses writing as an important educational tool to bring about changes in our view of reproductive health as a whole.