Breaking Down BV: Bacterial Vaginosis

By Candice

Today, we have a special topic on Bacterial Vaginosis, also known as BV. Before we get into BV, we need to learn more about the umbrella it falls under, known as Vaginitis. Vaginitis or ‘inflammation of the vulva or vagina’ encompasses the variety of irritations that can happen to the vagina outside of STDs. Causes of vaginitis include:

  • yeast infection
  • bacterial vaginosis
  • trichomoniasis
  • allergies and irritants
  • lack of the hormone estrogen

And sometimes multiple factors are at play. When it comes to BV specifically, this is caused by an imbalance of the different bacteria that naturally inhabit the vagina. Causes of the imbalance can come from douching, engaging in vaginal sex with a new sex partner, or with having multiple partners. BV is the most common infection for those between the ages of 15-441, but the good news is it’s also one of the most treatable. While some folks might not display symptoms, doctors recommend looking out for greyish discharge, unusual odor (especially after sex), itching or pain while urinating. It’s especially important to make note of these signs if you’re pregnant as BV can affect premature delivery as well as birth weight2. Ignoring symptoms can also increase the risk for pelvic inflammatory disease and miscarriage. Knowing what your normal vaginal fluids are like also helps when it comes to detection of infections.

(Click to enlarge)

Talking with your doctor if you display symptoms leads to swifter treatment. Your medical provider will prescribe antibiotics or direct you to over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, which should be completed, even when symptoms may lessen or disappear. Additionally, treatment will reduce your risk for contracting other STDs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea – which is more likely when you have BV. Open communication with your partner about using barrier methods, like internal or external condoms also reduces the risk for BV. As always, if you are concerned, contact your local Planned Parenthood to get back on your way to a healthy, happy vagina!

1 CDC, Bacterial Vaginosis – CDC Fact Sheet, 2016
2 Ibid

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