Many patients come to me with various reproductive health issues. One common problem is bacterial vaginosis. Overall this issue affects between 20 to 30 percent of women of reproductive age. Now, let’s dive in.

What is BV?

Bacterial vaginosis is a condition that occurs when there is an overgrowth of vaginal bacteria. BV is the most common female vaginal infection (up to 30% of women). 

What causes it?

A shift of normal vaginal bacteria causes it. This shift causes an elevation into the normal vaginal pH. This leads to an increase in thin grayish vaginal discharge that tends to have a fishy ammonia odor. 

In a healthy vagina, bacteria and yeast exist in a balanced amount. An overgrowth of harmful bacteria can cause an infection. It is still unclear what causes bacterial vaginosis. Some factors that can contribute to it include:

  • Douching
  • Having many sex partners 
  • Using perfumed vaginal products.

One thing that makes bacterial vaginosis unique is that up to 50 percent of infected women do not show symptoms. 

Yet, when they do experience symptoms, they may include the following:

  • A foul-smelling vaginal odor
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Itching and burning during urination

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to see your OB-GYN immediately.

Bacterial vaginosis can cause complications during pregnancy

The infection can raise a pregnant woman’s risk of premature birth. In some cases, low birth weight, and miscarriage can occur as well. Therefore, if you are pregnant and suspect you have bacterial vaginosis, seek treatment immediately.

Bacterial vaginosis is a treatable condition

Treatment may include prescription oral or vaginal antibiotics, such as metronidazole or clindamycin. Conversely, BV with no symptoms does not need treatment unless a woman is pregnant or in preparation for a surgery. Male partners do not need treatment. Have 4 or more BV infections in a year confirmed by your gynecologist? Ask about long-term suppression. This is a week of oral metronidazole with up to a month of vaginal boric acid suppositories. DO NOT take boric acid orally. It can be fatal. Next, you would do twice weekly metronidazole vaginal gel for up to 6 months. I usually recommend antibiotics such as metronidazole, clindamycin, or tinidazole. You can take them orally or through the vagina via a gel or cream. It is vital to complete the full course of antibiotics, even if you feel better before you finish them.

Prevention is always better than cure. Subsequently, some steps can reduce your risk of developing bacterial vaginosis. First, avoid douching, which removes the good bacteria that protect your vagina. Secondly, use unscented and hypoallergenic menstrual products. Lastly, practice safe sex by using condoms correctly.

Bacterial vaginosis is a common condition. But, it is treatable and preventable. If you experience any symptoms or complications, please see your OB-GYN immediately. It is vital to take care of your reproductive health. Practice good hygiene to avoid infections. We are here to provide you with the best care to help you maintain your reproductive health.

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