Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common cause of abnormal discharge in women. 1 in 3 women will get it during their lifetime. BV symptoms are distressing and embarrassing, though relatively simple to treat. Relationships can suffer, primarily due to the many misconceptions that commonly plague vaginal infections. Get the truth with 5 facts every woman should know about bacterial vaginosis.
1. Symptoms to Watch For
Approximately 50-75% experience symptoms during BV, while others have none. It is often confused with yeast infections or other conditions. Signs to watch for include:
- Vaginal discharge that is white (milky) or gray. It may also be foamy or watery.
- Strong fish-like odor, especially after sex.
- Vaginal irritation
2. Vagina, Vulva, and Hygiene
BV is an infection resulting from an overgrowth of the various bacteria in the vagina. Sadly, many people still believe the vagina covers the outside of a lady’s genital area when it does not. Say it with me! The vagina is inside, and the vulva is outside! While issues can arise from not washing properly, over washing the vulva and douching are more realistic triggers.
3. Bacterial Vaginosis is Not an STI
You do not have to have sex to get BV, so it technically is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI). At the same time, BV is more common in sexually active females because introducing another person’s bacteria to yours can lead to an imbalance. BV is also exclusive to vaginas, so male partners would not get it.
4. Why You Should Treat It
Due to its nature, BV can be tough to gather up the courage to get help. There is no need to be afraid. Trust us when we say your gynecologist has pretty much seen it all and can help you resolve it. Yes, BV can sometimes go away on its own. However, not getting treatment can raise your risk of complications like pregnancy issues and contracting STIs like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV.
5. You Can Reduce the Risk
We are still trying to get an understanding of how BV spreads, but you can reduce your risk by:
- Limiting the number of sexual partners
- Practicing abstinence
- Not douching
- Using protection during sex
If you have BV symptoms, participating in clinical research studies here at Women’s Healthcare Research may be an option. Clinical research volunteers help advance how we manage conditions like bacterial vaginosis. Qualified applicants receive study-related care, potential access to new therapies and may be eligible for time and travel reimbursement. To learn more about our bacterial vaginosis studies, call (858) 505-8672.