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New treatments for common vaginal infection being studied

Whether a two-week regimen using a stainless steel douching device can eradicate the most common vaginal infection is under study at the Medical College of Georgia.

MCG researchers want to know whether the device can eliminate bacterial vaginosis and the distinctive odor that typically accompanies the infection, says Dr. Daron G. Ferris, family medicine physician, director of the Gynecologic Cancer Prevention Center at MCG Medical Center and the studys principal investigator.

MCG is the only site in the nation for a two-week test of the device that is based on the same premise as stainless steel bars chefs use to eliminate undesirable odors from their hands. Participants in a small pilot study who used the device for one week indicated they were beginning to see improvement, says Dr. Eileen D. Dickman, clinical researcher, coordinator of the Gynecologic Cancer Prevention Center and a co-investigator.

Bacterial vaginosis is the most common type of vaginal condition that women experience and yet its etiology is poorly understood, says Dr. Ferris. Basically its an alteration of the vaginas ecosystem. It gets that way because the lactobacilli, the good bacteria in the vagina, are wiped out.

Good bacteria are critical to the vaginas natural, continuous cleansing process. They secrete lactic acid, which makes the vagina very acidic, and hydrogen peroxide to kill bad bacteria. Dead cells are carried away in the normally clear discharge. When the system is disrupted, a womans natural defense against sexually transmitted diseases decreases, leaving her much more vulnerable to infections such as HIV, Chlamydia and human papillomavirus. Multiplying bad bacteria produce an undesirable odor and vaginal discharge may be thick and white.

All sexually active women are at risk for this imbalance; for some unknown reason black women have twice the risk. Regular vaginal douching may also be a factor, says Dr. Ferris, noting that his counterparts around the
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