What is Bacterial Vaginosis?
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the name of a condition in women where the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina is disrupted and replaced by an overgrowth of certain bacteria. It is sometimes accompanied by discharge, odor, and pain, itching, or burning. Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal infection in women of childbearing age.
How do women get bacterial vaginosis?
The cause of BV is not fully understood. BV is associated with an imbalance in the bacteria that are normally found in a woman’s vagina. The vagina normally contains mostly “good” bacteria, and fewer “harmful” bacteria. BV develops when there is an increase in harmful bacteria. Not much is known about how women get BV, some activities or behaviors can upset the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina and put women at increased risk including: having a new sex partner or multiple sex partners and douching.
What are the signs and symptoms of bacterial vaginosis?
Women with BV may have an abnormal vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor. Some women report a strong fish-like odor, especially after intercourse. Discharge, if present, is usually white or gray; it can be thin. Women with BV may also have burning during urination or itching around the outside of the vagina, or both. However, most women with BV report no signs or symptoms at all. BV in sexually active women can increase susceptibility to other STDs such as HIV, Herpes, Chlamydia, and Gonorrhea.
What are the complications of bacterial vaginosis?
In most cases, BV causes no complications. But there are some serious risks from BV because it increases a woman’s susceptibility to STDs, such as HIV, herpes simplex virus (HSV), chlamydia, and gonorrhea and increase the chances of spreading these diseases to their sexual partners.
How is bacterial vaginosis diagnosed?
A health care provider must examine the vagina for signs of BV and perform laboratory tests on a sample of vaginal fluid to look for bacteria associated with BV.
What is the treatment for bacterial vaginosis?
Although BV will sometimes clear up without treatment, all women with symptoms of BV should be treated to avoid complications. Male partners generally do not need to be treated. However, BV may spread between female sex partners.
BV is treatable with antibiotics prescribed by a health care provider. Two different antibiotics are recommended as treatment for BV: metronidazole or clindamycin. Either can be used with non-pregnant or pregnant women, but the recommended dosages differ.
How can bacterial vaginosis be prevented?
BV is not completely understood by scientists, and the best ways to prevent it are unknown. However, it is known that BV is associated with having a new sex partner or having multiple sex partners.
The following basic prevention steps can help reduce the risk of upsetting the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina and developing BV:
- Be abstinent.
- Limit the number of sex partners.
- Do not douche.
- Use all of the medicine prescribed for treatment of BV, even if the signs and symptoms go away.