Testing, Diagnosis and Treatment of Gardnerella

What is Gardnerella?

Gardnerella is an infection that affects the female genital tract. It is caused by a bacterium known as the Gardnerella Vaginalis bacterium. The infection, as well as being known as Gardnerella or Gardnerella Vaginalis to give it its full name, is also known commonly known as Bacterial Vaginosis.

How Gardnerella can develop

The vagina contains a number of various bacteria of which Gardnerella Vaginosis is one. A Gardnerella infection comes about when the balance of these various bacteria is disturbed creating an imbalance in vaginal chemicals. It is not clear as to why this happens.

Although Gardnerella is often linked with increased sexual activity, it is not technically classed as a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI). An infection may be passed on from two women who have sex but there is no firm evidence to suggest that an infection affects men.

The symptoms of Gardnerella

A Gardnerella infection does not always produce symptoms, but when it does they can include:• Vaginal discharge • Vaginal irritation • Vaginal odour The vaginal odour can be quite pungent and is the most common complaint.

Gardnerella is not serious or harmful to the majority of women; however it can cause concern if an infection is contracted during pregnancy.As mentioned above many women (approximately half) do not display symptoms and where this is the case the infection causes no harm to women. This includes pregnant women too.

Diagnosing Gardnerella

Your family doctor or a healthcare professional in a GUM Clinic or a private clinic may be able to diagnose Gardnerella by simply examining your vagina. The clinician will check for a thin discharge, greyish in appearance, and an unpleasant odour. This may be enough to confirm a diagnosis. It the clinician is uncertain, you may be asked to provide one or two swab samples.

These tests are used to check for: • Infected cells • The level of acidity in the vagina These tests are not usually painful but may cause some women a little embarrassment or some minor discomfort. The result of an acidity check is available almost immediately. Depending on the clinic you attend, the test for infected calls may be available immediately, or if it has to be sent away for testing, may take several days.

Treatment for Gardnerella

There are several alternative treatments for a Gardnerella infection. These include: • A course of antibiotics – the antibiotic usually prescribed is Metronidazole. Tablets are normally prescribed, but for breastfeeding mothers, Metronidazole gel is prescribed as tablets can affect mother’s milk. • Vaginal pH corrective treatments – These come in gel form and are applied to the inside of the vagina to rebalance the vaginas acid balance. They are a relatively new development so their success rate is not yet confirmed. They can however be brought over the counter at some pharmacies.

Gardnerella diagnosis and treatmentBroadgate STI Clinic London Wall If you live and/or work in London you can be diagnosed and treated at the walk-in STI Clinic London Wall operated by Broadgate GP. As no prior appointment is necessary, many women find this the most convenient option to fit in with a busy work schedule.

Opening hours for Broadgate STI Clinic London are: • 08:00 to 18:30 Monday to Thursday • 08:00 to 17:30 on Fridays Although no prior appointment is necessary, if you prefer to make appointment in order to minimise any potential waiting time, the number to ring is 020 7638 4330.