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Gardnerella vaginalis: what is it, causes and treatment

Gardnerella vaginalis and Gardnerella mobiluncus are two bacteria that normally live in the vagina without causing any symptoms. However, when they multiply too much, they can cause an infection popularly known as bacterial vaginosis, which can lead to the production of strong-smelling white-gray discharge.

Treatment is with antibiotic drugs, such as Metronidazole or Clindamycin, in the form of oral pills or ointments that should be applied to the vagina, although in some cases cure can be achieved only by properly washing the area.

A Gardnerella infection occurs most often in women, as the bacterium is part of the normal vaginal microbiota, but men can also be infected through unprotected relationships with an infected partner.

Gardnerella vaginalis: what is it, causes and treatment

Main symptoms of Gardnerella

Gardnerella manifests differently in women and men, with one or more of the following symptoms:

Symptoms in womenSymptoms in men

White or greyish vaginal discharge

Redness in the foreskin, glans or urethra
Small spots in the vagina

Pain while urinating

Unpleasant odor that gets worse after unprotected intimate contactItchy penis
Pain during intimate contact

Yellowish secretion in the urethra

In many men, it is more common than Gardnerella sp. do not cause any symptoms, so treatment may not be necessary either. However, if it becomes very common in women, it may be recommended by the doctor that the man also be treated, as he may be moving back to the woman, especially if they practice intimate contact without a condom.

In addition, if infection occurs simultaneously with other bacteria, women may experience inflammation in the uterus and fallopian tubes, which can lead to infertility if treatment is not done.

What Causes Gardnerella Infection

There is no specific cause for this type of infection, but it is more common in women with risk factors such as multiple sexual partners, cigarette smoking, regular vaginal washes, or IUD use as a contraceptive method.

Therefore, genital Gardnerella infection is not considered to be an STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) and the incubation period of the disease is 2 to 21 days, which is the time when the bacterium is present but no symptoms appear.

How is the diagnosis of infection

The diagnosis of the infection can be done in a gynecological office, where the doctor can observe the signs of infection, especially the presence of discharge and the characteristic odor. In addition, to confirm the diagnosis, the physician may indicate a vaginal culture in which vaginal secretion is collected for microbiological analysis.

From the analysis of the secretion, it is possible to have the confirmation of the bacteria responsible for the infection and thus the appropriate treatment can be initiated.

In the case of men, the diagnosis should be made by the urologist through the analysis of symptoms and evaluation of penile secretion.

How is treatment done

Gardnerella infection is easy to cure and is usually treated with antibiotic medication such as Metronidazole, Secnidazole or Clindamycin, taken as pills, or applied as intimate ointments.

Usually, the treatment lasts about 7 days for the antibiotic tablet or 5 days for the creams. During this time, proper intimate hygiene should be maintained by washing only the external genital region with mild soap or appropriate for the region.

In pregnancy, treatment should only be done with the antibiotic pill recommended by your gynecologist and proper hygiene of the region. 

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