BV (Bacterial Vaginosis) is vaginal infection caused by changes in the amount of certain types of bacteria in the vagina – when the balance of bacteria inside the vagina becomes disrupted. Actually it is a condition triggered by overgrowth of atypical bacteria in the vagina.
In most cases bacterial vaginosis can be easily treated but if it is left untreated, it can increases risks for getting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and cause problems during pregnancy.
In the past health experts thought that BV was caused by anaerobic bacteria Gardnerella – this is why it was called Gardnerella vaginitis. Later it was noted that there are a number of species of bacteria that naturally live in the vaginal area and may grow to excess and can trigger typical for bacterial vaginosis symptoms.
BV risk factors
Bacterial vaginosis is common in women ages 15-44. Even virgin girls can get bacterial vaginosis. Risks are increasing in women who have multiple sex partners without using condoms and in women who use vaginal douching.
Bacterial vaginosis is also common in pregnant women – 1 in 4 pregnant women get BV.
Intrauterine devices (IUDs) can also increase your risks for bacterial vaginosis.
Bacterial vaginosis can also increase your risk of getting some STIs.
- Vaginal discharge – white/milky or gray or yellowish;
- Vaginal odor – strong fishy smell (especially after sex);
- Burning sensation during urination;
- Itching around the outside of the vagina;
- Vaginal irritation.
About 50% women with bacterial vaginosis have no symptoms.
Sometimes bacterial vaginosis can be confused with vaginal yeast infections – both are common causes of vaginal discharge and similar symptoms. During bacterial vaginosis vaginal discharge can be white or gray with fishy smell. During yeast infections vaginal discharge can be white or gray but look like cottage cheese.
If you have vaginal “fishy” odor (especially in combination with vaginal itching
, it is almost certain that you have Bacterial Vaginosis
Vaginal tests can easily make proper diagnosis.
In most cases bacterial vaginosis treated with antibiotics. However, it is common for BV to return. Unfortunately about 50% women successfully treated with BV find their symptoms return (usually during 3 months). If you get bacterial vaginosis, your male sex partner doesn’t need to be treated. But female partners could get the infection easily.
Special attention should be paid to proper treatment during pregnancy as bacterial vaginosis could trigger premature birth or miscarriage.
- Do not douche – it can increase your risks for bacterial vaginosis;
- Practice safe sex – condoms are the best way to prevent BV and sexually transmitted infections;
- Be monogamous – many partners (especially not well known partners) increase your risks;
- Limit number of sex partners as much as possible;
- Avoid or don’t abuse alcohol and drugs – drinking alcohol and/or using drugs you are losing your control.
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