for Better Health
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common condition of the vagina and is the most common vaginal infection in women of reproductive age. BV can cause symptoms such as unusual discharge, odor, itching, and burning. Fortunately, it can be successfully treated by a variety of options. This post will cover BV causes, symptoms, and treatment options, so you can get the help you need for better health.
What Causes Bacterial Vaginosis?
BV occurs when there is an imbalance of the naturally occurring bacteria in the vagina. In a healthy vagina, there is a balance of “good” and “bad” bacteria, with the “good” bacteria normally dominating. When this balance is disrupted and there is an increase of “bad” bacteria, an infection can occur.
There are a few things that can contribute to this imbalance, including:
- Unprotected Sex: Having unprotected sex can increase the risk of BV due to the introduction of foreign bacteria.
- Spermicides: Using spermicides for contraception can also disrupt the balance of bacteria in the vagina.
- Douching: Douching can also disrupt the normal bacterial balance in the vagina.
Signs & Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis
Bacterial vaginosis usually does not cause any noticeable symptoms, but when symptoms do occur, they can include:
- Unusual or unpleasant-smelling vaginal discharge
- Fishy-smelling discharge
- Itching in or around the vagina
- Burning during urination
Diagnosing & Treating Bacterial Vaginosis
BV can be diagnosed by a medical professional with a pelvic exam, lab tests, or a medical history. Treatment is usually with antibiotics such as metronidazole or clindamycin. Treatment can come in various forms, including pills, creams, or gels. Be sure to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions exactly and finish all medications to prevent the infection from returning.
Preventing Recurrence of Bacterial Vaginosis
The best way to prevent a recurrence of BV is to maintain good vaginal hygiene. Some steps you can take include:
- Avoid douching
- Properly clean your genital area after every shower
- Wear cotton underwear, as it is more breathable than synthetic fabrics
- Avoid scented feminine products, such as douches, sprays, and soaps
- Avoid using harsh soaps, detergents, and fabric softeners
- When having sex, use condoms or other forms of protection
Bacterial Vaginosis and Overall Health
Bacterial vaginosis can sometimes cause health issues, including:
- Pain and discomfort
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Low birth weight in infants
- An increased risk of HIV infection
- An increased risk of developing other sexually transmitted infections
By understanding what causes Bacterial Vaginosis, the symptoms it can cause, and the treatments available, women can take charge of their health and get the help they need.