What is Bacterial Vaginosis and How Do Women Get It?
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 BV?
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 BV?
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 BV?
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.
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Evita Almassi, MSW, served as the Communications and Digital Marketing Manager for the NWHN. Her 10+ years in nonprofit communications – especially with social media advocacy campaigns – enabled the NWHN to reach and empower more women in their health education and advocacy journeys.
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