What Is Bacterial Vaginosis?


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Medical situations happening down there are no fun. Even though it may be gross to think about, it’s important to know what might be going on so that you can clue your doctor in and get the treatments you need.

A common down-there issue is bacterial vaginosis. I know, the name sounds kind of scary, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, basically what happens is that the bacteria in your vagina isn’t properly balanced. In this case, harmful bacteria is more plentiful than the good bacteria that usually exists there.

While BV itself often doesn’t have too many complications, it can leave you more vulnerable to things like STDs or developing Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. Definitely things that you don’t want.

You may not even know you have it because some women have no symptoms. Other women may notice abnormal discharge, a smell or itching. To get the official diagnosis, you’ll have to visit your doctor who can conduct an exam and also test the vaginal fluid. If you have BV, your doctor can prescribe you antibiotics to clear up the situation.

The sort of annoying thing about bacterial vaginosis is that there isn’t a whole lot of information out there about what actually causes it. While doctors know it has to do with that imbalance in the vagina, what actually offsets that balance remains kind of puzzling. Take comfort though that you cannot get BV through things like toilets, swimming pools or bedding.

As far as ways to minimize your chances of getting BV, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health gives a few suggestions, including not to douche, get pelvic exams and make sure you “keep your vaginal bacteria balanced.” For that, they just suggest proper washing, wiping and wearing breathable bottoms. Women who are not sexually active can contract BV, though it is more common in those who are having sex. Thus, making sure that you also use condoms and have safe sex is suggested as a way of protecting yourself from BV.

Having one sexual partner is also cited as a way you could keep your BV chances down, though a new study just came out recently that showed women who were treated for BV and then returned to their same partner from before treatment, actually had a higher risk of developing it again – however, these instances were also linked to “inconsistent condom use.”

Basically, the researchers noted they’d want to study more if treating partners of those with BV could help curb it, but in the mean time, using a condom remains (as always) very important. That same study also found that those on hormonal birth control were half as likely to have BV recur, again suggesting an area for further study to understand that link.

Remember, bacterial vaginosis is common and treatable. It’s not something to be ashamed of, but it is something that you should make sure to discuss with your doctor so you can get it all cleared up!

Had you heard about bacterial vaginosis? Is it something that your doctor ever discussed with you? Tell us in the comments!

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