What Is Bacterial Vaginosis?

Bacterial Vaginosis, or BV,  is a condition that is common to women. Not all those who have it can distinguish it from other conditions such as a yeast infection. To get the best treatment, here are five areas to consider to better understand “What is Bacterial Vaginosis”?

1.    The Mayo Clinic and WebMD define bacterial vaginosis as an inflammation and infection from an excessive production of bacteria that normally exists in the vagina. This overgrowth disrupts the otherwise good balance of bacteria in the vagina. Under normal conditions, the good bacteria overpower the bad bacteria, in numbers and strength. With BV, it is the other way around where the bad bacteria are dominant. BV usually affects women who are menstruating.

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2.    Although commonly mistaken as an STD, women with BV cannot transmit the infection to their partners.  Perhaps the reason most people believe that BV is an STD is because typically the condition occurs after a woman engages in sex a new partner. This vaginal infection generally heals by itself. Nevertheless, treatment is necessary to prevent serious complications such as PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) or miscarriage in the first trimester if pregnant. In addition, women with untreated BV are more vulnerable to STD such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, and even HIV. It is therefore best to treat the condition as early as possible after symptoms show.

3.    What is Bacterial Vaginosis?  BV is normally a mild condition that goes away with time. It can occur with symptoms and without symptoms. Treatment is necessary if symptoms are uncomfortable. Treatment is optional if there are no symptoms.

If any of the following risk factors are present, it is wise to check with your physician and get a diagnosis. Common risk factors are the following:

  • Sex with multiple partners or with a new partner
  • Use of heavily-scented vaginal products
  • Smoking
  • Douching
  • Insertion of intrauterine device (IUD) for birth control

4.    From the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), here are some statistics to help you better understand what BV is:

  • Among those women who have BV, 84% of them show no symptoms.
  • A significant 18.8% of women who have had no sexual experiences have the condition.
  • The most common reason for recurring BV is having multiple and new sex partners.

5.    Since BV is often asymptomatic, it is best that any condition with excessive vaginal discharge be seen by a doctor. Some considerations here include:

  • Women vary in what a normal discharge is for them. It is up to each woman to decide if the situation is excessive and should be seen by a doctor.
  • Diagnosis includes testing of the discharge as well as a pelvic examination. Physicians will also ask about the symptoms.
  • Even if the bacterial vaginosis is a mild condition that can go away without treatment it is prudent to undergo check-ups from time to time.

Never underestimate the condition or ignore a need for treatment as serious complications may arise. Increasing your understanding of what bacterial vaginosis is can help you make the timely and right choice, and seek-out the best BV treatment.