Group B Streptococcus in the Vagina
Group B streptococcus is a bacterium that lives normally in the vagina of many women, along with many other bacteria, including lactobacilli. Group B streptococcus is only medically important in the last stages of pregnancy, since babies can develop streptococcal infections as they pass through a birth canal of a woman with group B stretococcus.
Group B streptococcus is a different strep than the bacterium that causes strep throat or “flesh-eating strep.” It is not a sexually transmitted disease, and only causes significant illness in newborns. This is not a health hazard in any other way.
In the past few years, some physicians have observed that group B Streptococcus is sometimes associated with symptoms of vulvar and vaginal irritation. Therefore, many physicians who care for women with chronic vulvovaginal irritation, burning, or itching prescribe an antibiotic for women found to have vaginal group B streptococcus on a vaginal culture. Usually, there is no improvement in symptoms, because the strep was coincidental and unrelated. However, an occasional woman experiences clearing of symptoms.
When the antibiotic is discontinued, group B streptococcus usually recurs quickly. So, women who improve substantially with an antibiotic are frequently treated for several weeks or months in order to suppress the streptococcus long enough for the skin to recover. For those women whose symptoms are not relieved with an antibiotic, further treatment is unnecessary and unhelpful.
Libby Edwards, M.D.
4335 Colwick Rd., Suite D
Charlotte, NC 28211
Voice: (704) 367-9777 Fax: (704) 367-0504
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