Are You A Woman? Then You Can Get Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
What Is Bacterial Vaginosis
BV is an infection caused when too much of a certain bacteria change the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina. Any woman can get Bacterial Vaginosis (BV), and is common in women ages 15-44. Studies show that having BV could increase your chances of getting a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD). Please note, there is no known connection of BV and kidney damage.
Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis
- Thin white or gray vaginal discharge
- Burning in the vagina
- Some women have a strong fish-like odor (especially after sex)
- Some women experience burning while urinating
Note: Some women with BV are asymptomatic (no symptoms). To know if you have BV, your doctor or health care provider will look at your vagina for signs of BV and perform laboratory tests on a sample of vaginal fluid to determine if BV is present. A pelvic exam may be performed to check for BV.
Note: Pregnant women can also get BV, and are more likely to have babies born premature (early) or with low birth weight (baby that weighs less than 5.5 pounds at birth). Once diagnosed with BV, pregnant women must seek treatment immediately.
How Is Bacterial Vaginosis Spread?
Although the cause of BV is not exactly clear, it is however linked to an imbalance of ‘good’ and ‘harmful’ bacteria that are normally found in a woman’s vagina. Studies also show that, having a new sex partner or multiple sex partners, as well as douching, can upset the balance of bacteria in the vagina and so put women at increased risk for getting BV. Other ways include:
- Antibiotic use
- Using an intrauterine device (IUD) for birth control
Note: BV is not considered an STD, but could increase your chances of getting one (such as HIV, Gonorrhea, or Chlamydia). BV could affect women who have never had sex.
How to Avoid Getting Bacterial Vaginosis
Since doctors and scientists are not entirely clear on how BV is spread, there are no best ways to prevent it. However, the following are basic prevention steps that may help lower your risk of developing BV.
- Abstinence (not having sex)
- Limiting your number of sex partners
- Not douching
Can Bacerial Vaginosis be Cured?
Once diagnosis confirm that you have BV, it is important that you take all of the medicine prescribed to you, even if the symptoms go away. BV can be treated with antibiotics, although it could recur after treatment. Treatment of BV could reduce your risk for contracting STDs.
Although male sex partners of women diagnosed with BV generally do not need to be treated, BV may be transferred between female sex partners.
Bacterial Vaginosis and Your Kidneys
There is no known connection between BV and kidney damage, and CDC does not consider BV an STD. However, any infection in the vagina that could travel to the bladder and urethra, could easily travel to the kidneys and be harmful to them.