What Is Bacterial Vaginosis and How Is It Treated?

The vagina is a natural home to various types of bacteria. The optimal balance between these different kinds of bacteria is the key to keeping the vagina healthy, which is why it is so important to prevent bacterial overgrowth. However, we live stressful lives, so this balance can easily get upset and certain types of bacteria could start to grow out of control. This may lead to bacterial vaginosis (BV) and other conditions. This is a relatively common occurrence and a manageable condition. But if possible, you should try to avoid it so as keep your vagina healthy and BV-free, as this condition may lead to complications and even an increased risk of sexually transmitted infections.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis? 

So what are the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis? These include:

  • The feeling of a burning sensation when you urinate
  • You see gray of white discharge
  • You get a fishy-smelling discharge
  • There is itchiness and pain in the vulva

What is the cause of bacterial vaginosis? 

As mentioned, vaginas are in itself an environment that requires balance and when this balance is disrupted it can lead to your vagina’s health being compromised. This is when BV starts to develop, it is triggered by the excess growth of certain bacterias and overpowering the growth of the good bacterias.

Imagine having bad bacteria outnumber the good. Bad bacteria could be present in the vagina in levels that are 100 to 1000 times over what is considered normal. This is what causes BV and its unpleasant symptoms.

Based on medical research, there is no exact reason why bad bacteria outgrows good bacteria. Being sexually active is one factor that triggers growth. If you are not sexually active, you are highly unlikely to get bacterial vaginosis.

Who is most at risk of getting bacterial vaginosis? 

What are the chances of some people getting it more than others?

BV can affect anyone with a vagina but some of us are more at risk, especially if the following is true:

  • If you are African American
  • You don’t use condoms or dental dams when having sex
  • There is an intrauterine device (IUD)
  • You have a history of using douches or other vaginal washes
  • Have multiple sex partners
  • If you are pregnant

How is BV diagnosed? 

If you are showing symptoms of BV, it would be best to see a doctor immediately to get a more accurate diagnosis. Beginning with a physical exam then taking a vaginal fluid sample in order to check the presence of bacteria. These will help identify the diagnosis based on the physical symptoms and rule out other conditions like a yeast infection.

Vaginal bacteria levels change frequently thus vaginal fluid tests may not be always reliable. If your test comes out negative this does not mean you don’t have BV.

How do you treat BV? 

There are cases wherein the outgrowth of certain bacteria slows down and returns the environment of the vagina into its neutral and balanced state. This eliminates BV on its own. However, for some conditions, it would need prescription antibiotics which are clindamycin and metronidazole. You can get these antibiotics in pill or gel form.

If the doctor prescribes for you to get antibiotics it is wise to complete the prescription and not miss it even if you notice that symptoms have stopped after a few days. Complete the prescription to totally eradicate the cause. If ever symptoms still show up even after a few days of taking antibiotics have it checked with a doctor.

Are there home remedies? 

It is recommended to seek the help of a health provider. If this cannot happen immediately, there are home remedies you can do to feel relief right at home.

These are the ways you can prevent further development of bacterial vaginosis at home:

  • Include probiotic-containing foods into your diet, such as yogurt with live and active cultures or a probiotic supplement
  • Avoid tight-fitting clothes, wear breathable cotton underwear
  • Always practice healthy vaginal hygiene habits
  • As much as possible use unscented soaps and unscented tampons.

Practicing these home remedies should lessen the symptoms or the discomfort that BV brings but if this does not provide relief, get in touch with a health provider immediately.

Can I have sex if I have BV? 

Having BV is not a threat to your male sexual partner but the act while you have untreated BV can be uncomfortable and may even be painful. It would be best to get yourself treated and rest while undergoing treatment.

BV is transmittable to another female when using toys, having vulva to vulva contact or finger penetration. If you happen to have a female sexual partner, it’s best for the both of you to see a doctor to rule out the presence of BV or treat it if present.

What would happen if BV does not get treated? 

Although there are times where BV clears out by getting the balance back of your vagina’s environment there are instances when it doesn’t and if you don’t get this treated your risk of catching sexually transmitted diseases.