Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is a kind of vaginal inflammation caused by the overgrowth of bacteria that are present in the vagina naturally. Women of reproductive age are more likely to get this infection, however, it may develop in the women of any age. The cause of bacterial vaginosis isn’t understood, but certain activities, like unprotected sex or frequent douching, increase the risk. It is also said that the changes in the balance of the different kinds of bacteria in the vagina can lead to bacterial vaginosis.
The article below covers all the important topics that are related to bacterial vaginosis, like is bacterial vaginosis an STD, bacterial vaginosis symptoms, causes, treatments, how to get tested, and prevention.
- Is bacterial vaginosis an STD?
- Bacterial vaginosis symptoms
- Bacterial vaginosis causes
- Bacterial vaginosis diagnosis
- Bacterial vaginosis treatment
- Bacterial vaginosis complications
- How to get tested?
- Providers Locations
Is bacterial vaginosis an STD?
Bacterial vaginosis is a common vaginal condition in women ages 15-44 in the U.S. This condition generally occurs in sexually active women. Bacterial vaginosis is linked to an imbalance of “good” and “harmful” bacteria that are usually found in the vagina of a woman’s. Having a new sex partner or multiple sex partners can cause bacteria in the vagina. This places a woman at an increased risk of getting Bacterial vaginosis, thus leading to sexually transmitted disease or infection.
There is no such research to show that treating a sex partner affects whether or not a woman gets Bacterial vaginosis. But a woman having bacterial vaginosis can increase the chances of getting other STDs. Women who have never had sex are rarely affected by bacterial vaginosis. Bacterial vaginosis is not transmitted from the toilet seats, swimming pool, or bedding.
Bacterial vaginosis symptoms
The symptoms and signs of bacterial vaginosis are so mild which come and go, many women don’t know they have it. The symptoms include:
- Thin white, grey or green vaginal discharge
- “Fishy” vaginal odor foul-smelling
- Vaginal itching
- Burning during urination
Itching or burning is not a common sign of bacterial vaginosis. If a girl has these symptoms, then the doctor will check for other conditions such as STD or STI.
Bacterial vaginosis causes
A lot of healthy bacteria are present in the vagina of a woman. They help them protect it from the bad bacteria that can cause symptoms such as smelly discharge or itching. Women having bacterial vaginosis will have fewer good bacteria than usual, which eventually let more bad bacteria grow. When the usual balance of bacteria changes, a woman will start to have symptoms of bacterial vaginosis.
Although physicians are not for sure what causes bacterial vaginosis, some things may make it more likely, such as:
- cigarette smoking
- new sex partners or multiple sex partners.
Bacterial vaginosis is not considered a sexually transmitted disease, but the chances of getting can be the reason for the number of sexual partners a woman has.
Bacterial vaginosis diagnosis
Your physician will ask about your medical history and take a physical exam. They may ask for a pelvic exam and also do simple tests, which includes:
- Checking the vagina’s pH or acidity level
- Taking a sample of vaginal fluid using a cotton swab from your vagina to look for cells covered with bacteria
Bacterial vaginosis treatment
The treatment for bacterial vaginosis is antibiotics like pills to swallow or cream to put in the vagina using a tampon. Bacterial vaginosis can occur again, a woman needs to take more than one series of antibiotics. Even if you feel better after taking the antibiotics, you should always be sure to finish the entire amount. That is how harmful bacteria die.
Your physician may suggest a few precautions to take while you’re on the antibiotic. For example, avoid alcoholic drinks as it causes a bad reaction to some medicines.
Always ask your physician if you need to avoid something while you’re on an antibiotic. If women are having sex with any male partners, they don’t need to be tested. But if women are having sex with other women, the partner also should be tested and treated if they start showing any symptoms.
Bacterial vaginosis complications
Bacterial vaginosis, most of the time goes away without any problem when properly treated. But when it’s left untreated, it can increase the women chances of having health problems such as:
- Preterm birth- In pregnant women, bacterial vaginosis may lead to premature deliveries or low birth weight babies.
- Sexually transmitted infections- Women having bacterial vaginosis are more susceptible to catching sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV, herpes simplex virus, chlamydia, or gonorrhea. If you or your partner has HIV, then bacterial vaginosis increases the chances of passing the virus on to your partner.
- Infection risk after gynecologic surgery- If you are infected with bacterial vaginosis, then you may increase the risk of developing a post-surgical infection.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)- Bacterial vaginosis can sometimes cause PID, an infection of the uterus and the fallopian tubes which have a high risk of causing infertility.
Infections like bacterial vaginosis are one of the reasons why women who have sex need regular checkups and STD testing. Bacterial vaginosis is mild but should be treated to prevent other problems as well.
To prevent bacterial vaginosis:
- Minimize vaginal irritation- Use mild or non-deodorant soaps, and unscented pads.
- Don’t douche- Frequent douching may disrupt the vaginal balance and will increase the risk of vaginal infection. Douching never clears up a vaginal infection.
- Avoid a sexually transmitted infection- Do not have sex with unknown or known people. Practice sex with only your husband/wife to minimize your risk of a sexually transmitted infection/ disease.
How to get tested?
There are various providers of BV home collection kits that send you a testing kit at home. We have shortlisted two of the best options for a home sample kit for bacterial vaginosis testing. The two options are LetsGetChecked and MyLabBox. The key features of both the providers are:
- Discreet collection kit
- Easy sample collection
- Lab results in 2-5 days
- CLIA certified labs
- HSA/FSA cards accepted
The key difference is that LetsGetChecked sends you a kit for just BV testing where as MyLabBox will send a kit that will include testing for key vaginal infections including BV, Trich, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and Yeast.
MyLabBox testing may be more economical as it covers five tests. These tests for key diseases that cause vaginal discharge or change in the color, odor or texture down under.
Name of Provider
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