It sheds light on greater education needs about a gynecologic infection that impacts 1 in 3 women.
Roshini Raj, MD
Harris Poll, on behalf of Symbiomix Therapeutics and the American Sexual Health Association (ASHA), has released the results of a new national survey that sheds light on the need for greater education of bacterial vaginosis (BV), a common gynecologic infection that impacts 1 in 3 women.
Roshini Raj, MD, gastroenterologist and internist, NYU Medical Center/Tisch Hospital, and Shannon Boodram, a clinical sexologist and author, collaborated with Symbiomix Therapeutics, LLC, to launch Keep Her Awesome, a national awareness campaign focused on educating and empowering women to control their gynecologic health.
“While it can be difficult and embarrassing to ask questions to your healthcare provider about gynecologic health, BV is a common issue,” Raj, told MD Magazine. “About 1 in 3 women are diagnosed with BV, it’s not something to be embarrassed or shy about.”
According to survey data, of the 304 US women aged 18—49 who were diagnosed by a healthcare professional with BV in past 2 years, 76% stated they would have seen a healthcare professional sooner if they were aware of the risks associated with BV if left untreated.
Approximately 3 in 5 women with BV, or 62%, mistake it for a yeast infection before diagnosis, while 1 in 5 women, or 20%, believe that BV is a yeast infection.
Only 43% of women are aware that if left untreated, BV can increase the risk of transmission of sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia, trichomaniasis, gonorrhea, herpes and HIV, along with pre-term birth and low weight birth, and pelvic inflammatory disease.
The online resource KeepHerAwesome.com provides consumers and healthcare professionals with information of critical women’s health issues that go unnoticed, along with related misperceptions and the importance of being proactive and taking charge of a woman’s gynecologic health.
It empowers women and professionals to initiate a more open conversation to in order to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment. Women are often uncomfortable volunteering information to healthcare professionals, so it’s important for doctors to probe and ask questions about gynecological history and any occurring symptoms.
“It can be difficult to tell common gynecologic infections from one another because the symptoms can be similar,” Raj said. “However, if ignored or mistreated, gynecologic infections can increase the risk of serious health concerns. Over-the-counter or holistic remedies do not effectively treat some gynecologic infections; several can only be treated properly with a prescription antibiotic, which is why it’s important to visit a healthcare provider.”
BV and gynecologic infections not only affect women’s physical health, but also women’s emotional health. Results from the survey found that women with BV feel self-conscious, 68%, and/or embarrassed, 66%, due to their condition.
Women with BV admit to avoiding certain everyday activities like being intimate with their partner/spouse, 79%, working out, 27%, going on a first date, 17%, performing activities like running errands and doing chores, 16%, and spending time with family/friends, 15%.
“It’s interesting the psychological or emotional impact BV can have,” Raj said. “Some women are not engaging in everyday, social activities, which really affects quality of life. BV is treated with prescription antibiotics, so once women receive the right diagnosis, they can get it treated properly. It’s important for doctors to not underscore the importance of receiving treatment.”
A press release has been made available.