(29th Nov 2012) 1 in 3 British women will suffer from Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) - the UK’s most common vaginal infection - at some point in their lives.
Despite this, an online survey conducted by Balance Activ on Mumsnet has revealed that a shocking 73% of women have either never heard of or are unsure of the symptoms of BV which, if left untreated, has been associated with serious health implications including reduced fertility, and premature birth and miscarriage if present during pregnancy.
BV infection has also been linked to an increased risk of contracting STIs, including HIV.
Over 70% of respondents were unaware of these potential health risks, over a third (33%) wouldn't have associated any of the symptoms with BV and, worryingly 41% said they thought they may have had some of the symptoms before but not known what it was.
Urgent call for a UK BV awareness campaign
Whilst BV is actually twice as common as thrush, the survey, conducted by Balance Activ - a clinically proven over the counter treatment for BV - found that just 1 in 10 believed this to be the case.
The infection is the leading cause of abnormal discharge for women of childbearing age and can be easily treated and prevented.
‘This survey has shown that there's a serious lack of awareness about BV, how common it is and its link to more serious health problems.
‘It is clear that more needs to be done to give women the information they need so that they can spot the symptoms, get the correct diagnosis and get the correct treatment option for them.’
Justine Roberts, Mumsnet CEO and Co-Founder.
According to medical research, 2 out of 3 women are misdiagnosing BV, leading to ineffective treatment and prolonged symptoms, with the possible long-term health implications associated with leaving the infection untreated.
Presented with the facts, 40% of women surveyed said they are worried or angry about the lack of awareness for UK women.
A massive 93% said they would support an awareness campaign to educate women to be able to spot the symptoms and make informed choices on treatment.
As one BV sufferer who took part in the survey put it: ‘Despite being diagnosed twice in my life, I know very little about it. So I’m all for a campaign to raise awareness’.
BV treatment options
As part of the survey, when asked about treatment options for BV, 72% of respondents said they would prefer an over the counter treatment option.
31% stated their preference would be to visit the doctor for antibiotics; however, 21% would look for an alternative to the antibiotics prescribed by their GP.
Meanwhile, 22% said they would seek a treatment they could order online.
The leading over the counter treatment for BV, Balance Activ is a lactic acid gel that restores and preserves the natural pH in the vagina. It effectively relieves symptoms and promotes the growth of the ‘good’ bacteria.
Speaking out about BV
Women are not embarrassed to discuss intimate symptoms, with 8 out of 10 Mumsnetters (84%) saying they would feel comfortable discussing BV with someone.
However, the majority would select an anonymous forum, like Mumsnet, as their ideal place for discussion and information.
When it comes to promoting the facts and raising awareness, 63% believe GPs would be the most effective source of information.
‘It’s alarming that, even when presented with the facts, only 1 in 10 women surveyed believe that BV is twice as common as thrush. An estimated 1 in 3 British women will suffer from BV at some point, so there is a clear and urgent need to raise awareness.’
Penny McCormick, spokesperson for Balance Activ.
• For more information on BV, including a guide to symptoms tool, visit www.balanceactiv.com
• For expert comment and case studies contact firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com or call 07957 383 070
Notes to editors:
• A total of 1,178 respondents completed an online survey on Mumsnet between 23rd - 29th October 2012.
• About Mumsnet: Mumsnet is the UK’s biggest, busiest and most influential network for parents, with nearly 50 million page views and 6.5 million visits per month. It also has 200 local sites, as well as a network of around 2,000 bloggers. It regularly campaigns on issues such as support for families of children with SEN, improvements in miscarriage care and freedom of speech on the internet.
• About BV: BV is caused by a change in the normal pH and bacterial balance in the vagina. pH changes can be a result of a number of things, including a woman’s monthly cycle, sex and douching. It’s this imbalance that results in the symptoms of BV.
• About Balance Activ Vaginal Gel: Balance Activ Vaginal Gel is a proven effective alternative to antibiotics without the associated side effects. Balance Activ is the leading over the counter treatment option for bacterial vaginosis and is available from all major pharmacies, supermarkets and online at www.balanceactiv.com. (RRP £10.20.) It is also available on prescription.
• About BBI Healthcare: BBI Healthcare Ltd manufactures Balance Activ. An innovative and ambitious company, BBI Healthcare supply specialist women's health products, novel fast acting glucose products, and heart health and digestive care ranges to domestic and international markets.
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