Consumer Health Info, Health Info, Women’s Health FAQs

Understanding Vaginal pH Levels and What Causes Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) in women

Publication Date: March 27, 2023

By: NWHN Staff


I recently went to the doctor and they told me I have BV (Bacterial Vaginosis). What is this and how do women get it?


What is Bacterial Vaginosis and Vaginal pH Levels?

BV occurs when there is a high presence of gardnerella bacteria and less lactobacillus bacteria, causing PH levels to become less acidic. A normal vaginal PH is about 4 (more acidic) while a vaginal PH with BV is 7 or higher (less acidic).

Anything that changes your vagina’s ph balance can throw off bacteria levels and lead to infection. Actions such as douching, using scented products and deodorants around the vagina, wearing tight non-breathable clothing, or using irritating products can all contribute to ph imbalance. BV is the most common vaginal infection experienced by women. It is not a sexually transmitted disease, but multiple sex partners or change in sex partners may increase one’s risk for BV. Since BV is an infection of the vagina, men can not get the infection.

What are symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis?

The most common symptoms that may indicate potential BV include: a thin or foamy vaginal discharge that may have a strong fishy odor. The color of the discharge may be white, dull-grey, or greenish, and sometimes vaginal irritation and itching can occur.

Some women may experience more symptoms than others. Many women have reported not experiencing any symptoms at all, which can be potentially dangerous. If left untreated for a long period of time, the infection can spread causing more serious health issues. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider to schedule an exam. Routine personal monitoring to your vulva and vaginal discharge can help catch any signs of vaginal infection early on.

How do I treat Bacterial Vaginosis?

BV can be easily cured with a standard antibiotic prescription. While there are multiple non-prescriptions to help alleviate the symptoms associated with BV, the infection itself will not be cleared unless you take a prescribed antibiotic. The most common antibiotics prescribed are metronidazole, clindamycin, or tinidazole. Some women suffer from recurring BV, which is not life threatening but can be annoying and have an impact on daily comfort and living. Here are some additional tips on how to regulate and prevent BV.

The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained on or available through this website is for general information purposes only.

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