What is Bacterial Vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis, also called bacterial vaginitis or BV, is an infection of the vagina caused by an imbalance of various types of natural vaginal bacteria. It is the most common cause of the abnormal vaginal discharge and is estimated to affect as many as one in three women at some point in their lives.[1] BV can be a significant source of embarrassment and distress for affected women but is relatively simple to treat using antibiotics. Long-term problems are rare as a result of bacterial vaginosis, but it can increase the risk of developing various sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV.[2]

Bacterial vaginosis symptoms

Roughly 50 to 75 percent of women with bacterial vaginosis experience no symptoms. Among those who do, the most common symptom is milky, off-white, or grey vaginal discharge, which is often described as having a fishy odor. The discharge tends to be heavier after sexual intercourse or a period.

Symptoms common to other vaginal disorders, such as pain during sex or when urinating, redness, and swelling, are not typical of BV. Some women, however, may experience vaginal itching.[2] The adoctor can help you find the nearest doctor adoctor Algeria.

Bacterial vaginosis causes

Bacterial vaginosis occurs when the distribution of vaginal bacteria becomes unbalanced. Normally, the vagina contains a mixture of bacteria, including anaerobic bacteria and lactobacilli. As a result of BV, anaerobic bacteria multiply and the amount of lactobacilli is reduced.[1][2] The precise reason as to why this happens is not known, though it is thought to involve a change in the acidity of the vagina.[1]

Bacterial vaginosis risk factors

A common misconception about bacterial vaginosis is that it is made more likely by poor vaginal hygiene: this is not true. Conversely, the use of certain soaps may in some cases play a role.

Other factors that may contribute to the development of bacterial vaginosis include:[1]

  • Sexual activity
  • Frequently changing sexual partners
  • A history of sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Smoking
  • Use of an intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD)
  • Being of Afro-Caribbean descent
  • Having heavy periods
  • Use of bubble baths
  • Hormonal changes, including puberty, pregnancy and menopause
  • Use of sex toys and lubricants
  • Use of antibiotics

These factors make BV more likely; they do not guarantee that a person will develop the condition. Women who have never had sex, however, rarely develop BV.[3]

Bacterial vaginosis diagnosis

Bacterial vaginosis is typically diagnosed following an examination of the symptoms and laboratory testing. The characteristic discharge of BV will usually indicate the presence of the condition, with testing necessary to confirm that it is not the result of another, similar condition, such as thrush or chlamydia.

Bacterial vaginosis treatment

In some cases, bacterial vaginosis will resolve without specific treatment.[3] Seeking professional medical treatment, however, is recommended. This will typically involve a short course of antibiotics, which may be taken orally or applied directly to the vagina as a gel or cream. When taking antibiotics, always be sure to take the whole course, even if the problem clears up before this time.

The male sexual partner(s) of women with BV do not need to receive treatment. An estimated 30 percent of women experience a relapse of symptoms within 3 months of receiving treatment, and roughly 50 percent of women will relapse within 12 months.[2] A longer course of antibiotics will usually be required to treat a recurrent infection.

Bacterial vaginosis complications

Complications associated with untreated bacterial vaginosis include:[1][4]

The condition also slightly increases a woman’s likelihood of developing HIV after having sexual intercourse with a person who is already infected. Women with BV and HIV are also more likely to transmit HIV to another person.

Bacterial vaginosis during pregnancy

Untreated bacterial vaginosis can slightly increase the risk of several complications during pregnancy. These include:

Women displaying symptoms of BV during pregnancy should seek treatment promptly.

Bacterial vaginosis prevention

There is no guaranteed way to prevent bacterial vaginosis. Certain actions and behaviors, however, are thought to help. These include:[1]

  • Avoiding the use of perfumed bubble baths, shampoos, soaps, oils, etc.
  • Avoiding pushing water into the vagina (douching) when bathing
  • Avoiding the use of strong or scented detergents to wash underwear
  • Avoiding washing the vagina too often; once daily is usually enough
  • Using a condom during sexual intercourse
  • Using water-based lubricants during sexual intercourse, if lubricants are required
  • Cleaning sex toys thoroughly before use
  • Taking showers rather than baths

The birth control pill may also help to prevent the onset of BV.[2]

Bacterial vaginosis FAQs

u003cstrongu003eIs bacterial vaginosis sexually transmitted?u003c/strongu003e

Bacterial vaginosis has not traditionally been thought of as being sexually transmitted. This is because, although BV is most common among sexually active women, it can affect women who don’t have or never had sex.u003csupu003eu003ca href=u0022https://adoctor.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=4743u0026amp;action=edit#fn1u0022u003e[1]u003c/au003eu003c/supu003e Moreover, it cannot be passed from a man to a woman, or vice versa. However, studies show that the condition can be passed from one woman to another through sexual intercourse.u003csupu003eu003ca href=u0022https://adoctor.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=4743u0026amp;action=edit#fn5u0022u003e[5]u003c/au003eu003c/supu003e It is recommended, therefore, that female partner of women with BV be tested for the condition.

u003cstrongu003eCan men get bacterial vaginosis?u003c/strongu003e

No, men cannot contract bacterial vaginosis. The condition is exclusive to the vagina.

u003cstrongu003eShould my partner receive treatment for bacterial vaginosis?u003c/strongu003e

Male sexual partners of a person with BV do not need to receive treatment. Female sexual partners, however, are advised to seek testing and, if appropriate, treatment, for the condition.

Other names for bacterial vaginosis

  • bacterial colpitis
  • bacterial vulvovaginitis
  • bacterial vaginitis
  • BV

  1. Patient. “Bacterial Vaginosis.” December 14, 2017. Accessed August 28, 2018.

  2. UpToDate. “Patient education: Bacterial vaginosis (Beyond the Basics).” September 28, 2017. Accessed August 28, 2018.

  3. CDC. “Bacterial Vaginosis – Fact Sheet.” February 8, 2017. Accessed August 28, 2018.

  4. Health Service Executive. “Bacterial vaginosis.” Accessed August 28, 2018.

  5. Sexually Transmitted Diseases. “Bacterial Vaginosis in Lesbians and Bisexual Women.” November, 2004. Accessed August 29, 2018.

**What is Bacterial Vaginosis?**

**Q: What is Bacterial Vaginosis​ (BV)?**

**A:** Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is⁢ a common vaginal infection ⁢that occurs⁤ when⁣ the ‍balance​ of bacteria in the vagina is disrupted. Normally, lactobacilli‌ (good bacteria) keep the pH of the vagina acidic and prevent the overgrowth of harmful bacteria. In BV, ‍the ‌levels of lactobacilli decrease, allowing‌ harmful bacteria to multiply, leading ⁣to​ an⁣ increase⁢ in vaginal ‌pH.

**Q: What is the difference⁢ between bacterial vaginosis and a yeast infection?**

**A:** BV and yeast infections are two distinct conditions caused by⁢ different⁤ microorganisms. BV​ is caused by an ⁤overgrowth of⁣ bacteria, while a yeast infection ⁤is caused by an ‍overgrowth of ⁣Candida, a type of fungus. ‌Symptoms of BV include⁣ a fishy​ odor, gray or white discharge, and⁢ vaginal⁣ itching and‌ burning. Yeast⁣ infections typically cause ‌itching, burning, and cottage cheese-like discharge.

**Q:‌ What are ⁣the causes of bacterial vaginosis?**

**A:** The ‌exact cause of BV is not ⁣fully ⁣understood, but several factors are linked to its development, including:

*‌ **Douching:** Douching can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina.

* **New or multiple sexual partners:** Changes in sexual ⁢partners can introduce different types of bacteria into the vagina.

* **Antibiotic use:** Certain antibiotics can kill the​ good ⁤bacteria in the vagina, allowing⁢ harmful bacteria to grow more easily.

* **Intrauterine device (IUD):** The IUD can harbor bacteria⁣ and ⁢disrupt the ‌pH of the vagina.

* **Scented feminine ⁣products:** Products like scented soaps, wipes, or douches can irritate the vagina and ⁣alter the bacterial balance.

**Q: What are the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis?**

**A:** BV may ⁤not always cause symptoms, but some common ⁣symptoms include:

* Fishy odor from the vagina

*​ Thin,⁢ gray or white⁣ discharge

*​ Vaginal ​itching or burning

* Painful or ⁢burning ⁤urination

* ‍Increased vaginal dryness

**Q: How ‌is bacterial vaginosis diagnosed?**

**A:** BV is diagnosed through ⁤a pelvic exam and ⁤a review of your medical history. Your healthcare provider may also order a vaginal fluid‍ sample to confirm the diagnosis. The sample will be examined under a microscope to determine the⁤ presence and type ⁤of bacteria present.

**Q: How is bacterial vaginosis treated?**

**A:**⁤ BV treatment⁣ typically involves the use ⁤of antibiotics, either oral ‍or vaginal. Commonly used⁣ antibiotics include metronidazole or clindamycin.⁤ Treatment may be for 5-7‌ days or ‌may require a longer course. ​It’s essential to⁤ complete the entire course of antibiotics as prescribed to prevent recurrence.

**Q: How can bacterial vaginosis⁣ be prevented?**

**A:** There is no guaranteed way to prevent BV, but some measures can ⁣reduce the risk of developing it, such as:

* Avoiding douching

* Using condoms during vaginal sex

*⁣ Limiting sexual partners

* Maintaining good vaginal hygiene

* Avoiding scented feminine​ products

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