Bacterial Vaginosis: a Genital Infection That’s Difficult to Catch


Apr 6, 2020


Image Credit: Getty Images

Bacterial vaginosis (BV), although not a sexually transmitted infection (STI), occurs most commonly after sexual intercourse. It is a vaginal infection that increases the risk of developing STIs such as chlamydia and gonorrhea and is most common in individuals in the childbearing age, according to Medical News Today (MNT).

BV doesn’t have many symptoms — the most common is itching — which makes it difficult to diagnose. Therefore, it’s important to keep an eye out for signs that indicate BV, in order to treat it.

What are the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis?

The most common symptoms of BV, according to MNT, include vaginal discharge, burning, and itching. Discharge may become more watery, change color, or have an unpleasant smell. If there is a burning sensation while urinating or itching around and outside the vagina, it may be due to BV.

What causes bacterial vaginosis?

An imbalance in the vaginal flora – the microorganisms present in the vagina, the amount and type of which have significant implications for an individual’s health – may cause BV. Having BV means that the vagina’s normal, healthy balance of bacteria has shifted, but why this imbalance happens is not always clear, scientists say.

What are the risk factors of bacterial vaginosis?

BV can’t be transmitted from toilet seats, swimming pools, bedding or by touching objects, MNT states. But the risk of having BV can increase with douching, having new or multiple sex partners, or using strong detergents to wash underwear, because these are activities that may interfere with vaginal flora.

Related on The Swaddle:

What You Need to Know About Vulvodynia, or Chronic Pain in the Vulva

How does bacterial vaginosis get diagnosed?

In case an individual experiences any of the symptoms above, a doctor will examine vaginal discharge and may perform some laboratory tests to determine the presence of BV, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The doctor may also check the acidity in the vagina by placing a pH test strip and if the vaginal pH is 4.5 or higher, it could be a sign of BV.

Is bacterial vaginosis curable?

For some, BV will go away without treatment. But if not, it can be treated with antibiotic medication, gels or creams, once a diagnosis has been made by a doctor. But it is important to take the full course of medication because when symptoms of BV do occur, they can recur easily.

How can bacterial vaginosis be prevented?

Per the CDC, doctors aren’t sure of how BV spreads and or of the best ways to prevent it. Not douching, and using condoms while having sex, are recommended as some of the best ways to prevent BV.


Written By Anubhuti Matta

Anubhuti Matta is an associate editor with The Swaddle. When not at work, she’s busy pursuing kathak, reading books on and by women in the Middle East or making dresses out of Indian prints.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields *.

The latest in health, gender & culture in India -- and why it matters. Delivered to your inbox weekly.