WHAT IS BACTERIAL VAGINOSIS (BV)?
Bacterial vaginosis is a condition that happens when there is too much of a certain bacteria in the vagina. This disrupts the normal balance of flora in the vagina
How common is BV?
Bacterial vaginosis is the most common vaginal condition in women aged 15-44. Most women have this at some point in their life especially once sexually active.
How is bacterial vaginosis spread?
Researchers do not know the cause of BV or how some women get it. This condition however typically occurs in sexually active women. BV is linked to an imbalance of ‘good’ and ‘harmful’ bacteria that are normally found in a woman’s vagina. Having a new sex partner or multiple sex partners, as well as douching, can upset the balance of bacteria in the vagina. This places a woman at increased risk for getting BV.
There is no research to show that treating a sex partner affects prevention against BV. However, having BV can increase your chances of getting other STD’s.
BV rarely affects women who have never had sexual intercourse. One can NOT get BV from toilet seats, bedding or swimming pools.
HOW CAN I AVOID GETTING BACTERIAL VAGINOSIS?
The following prevention measures MAY help lower your risk of developing BV:
⦁ Not having sex
⦁ Limiting your number of sex partners
⦁ Not douching
⦁ Using latex condoms
SYMPTOMS OF BACTERIAL VAGINOSIS
Most women with BV do not have symptoms till a later stage of the infection. If you do have symptoms, you may notice:
⦁ A thin white or gray vaginal discharge
⦁ Pain, itching, or burning sensation in the vagina
⦁ A strong fish-like odor, especially after sex
⦁ Burning sensation when urinating
⦁ Itching around the outside of the vagina
HOW TO DIAGNOSES BV?
Your doctor will do a vaginal examination with a speculum and vaginal fluid or discharge samples are taken using a cotton swab and sent to the lab for analysis. A pap smear is also able to diagnose BV.
CAN BV BE CURED?
BV will sometimes go away without treatment, but if symptoms are present then antibiotics must be initiated. It is important to take all the medication prescribed to you, even if your symptoms go away. Treatment reduces the risks of some STD’s. Male sex partners of women diagnosed with BV generally do not need to be treated. BV is likely to be transmitted between female sex partners.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DO NOT GET TREATED?
BV can cause serious health risks:
⦁ Increases your chance of getting HIV from other people carrying HIV
⦁ Pregnancy related infections if having BV while being pregnant
⦁ Increasing your chance of getting other STD’s, such as Chlamydia and gonorrhoea. These bacterias can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can affect fertility.