Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial Vaginosis, also called BV, is the most common type of bacterial vaginal infection.

WHAT IS IT?
Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is a vaginal bacterial infection that occurs when the normal bacteria in the vagina multiply to abnormal levels. Women with the infection usually have between 100 and 1,000 times more bacteria than normal in the vagina. Studies show that some-where between 15% and 25% of women between the ages of 15 and 44 get BV.

HOW IS IT TRANSMITTED?
While BV isn’t really a sexually transmitted infection (STI), women who have never had sex rarely get BV, and women with several sexual partners often get it. Several factors may cause BV, including stress, a change in diet, and poor hygiene.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Typical symptoms of BV include:
o a discharge with a “fishy” smell’
o burning and itching in the vaginal area.

A health care provider diagnoses BV by taking a sample of the vaginal discharge and looking at it under a microscope.

HOW IS IT TREATED?
Fortunately, BV is a curable infection. Most women will probably be given a prescription for a drug called metronidazole, either as a pill or as a gel. The pills are swallowed and the gel is inserted directly into the vagina. If a woman gets BV during pregnancy, it may lead to miscarriage, premature rupture of the membranes protecting the fetus, preterm labor, and premature delivery. If BV is not promptly treated, it may develop into more serious infections or conditions, such as PID (Pelvic Inflammatory Disease), urinary tract infection, cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (abnormal growth of the cells of the cervix), and mucopurulent cervicitis (inflammation of the cervix).

HOW CAN I PROTECT MYSELF FROM IT?
Because women who have not yet had sex rarely get BV, one way to avoid it is to abstain from sexual activity. Keeping the number of sex partners to a minimum, and always using condoms can also help protect a woman from Bacterial Vaginosis. Avoiding stress, having a healthy diet, and having good hygiene can also be protective. Finally, the use of condoms significantly reduces the risk of sexually transmitted infection.