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Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial Vaginosis at a glance:

  • very common
  • easily treated
  • needs to be diagnosed by a health care professional

What is Bacterial Vaginosis?
There are many different kinds of bacteria growing in your vagina. These bacteria are completely normal and actually serve to protect the vagina. However, bacterial vaginosis (BV for short) is caused by an imbalance of these different kinds of bacteria. The most common is an overgrowth of gardnerella vaginalis.

BV is the most common vaginal infection in women of childbearing age. BV is also very common in pregnant women. This can be dangerous because BV during pregnancy has been linked to higher rates of miscarriage (particularly in the first trimester). BV is also associated with premature delivery, low birth weight, and pelvic inflammatory disease. For all these reasons, it is important to talk with a health care professional if you think you may have BV. You can get tested for BV at your local Planned Parenthood health center.

What are the symptoms of BV?
Sometimes BV has no symptoms at all, other times symptoms may include:

  • thick, frothy discharge that is usually white or grey
  • a strong fishy smell, especially after sex
  • itching, burning, or other pain

What are the treatments for BV?
BV can be treated with antibiotics prescribed by your health care provider. These antibiotics are an easy and painless way to treat BV.

Although BV can go away on its own, treatment is important because having BV can increase your susceptibility to:

  • HIV infection
  • Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV)
  • Chlamydia
  • gonorrhea

Treatment is also particularly important for pregnant women to avoid complications during pregnancy.

If you think you may have BV, remember that the treatment is easy and painless. So make an appointment at your local Planned Parenthood health center to get tested and treated today!

How can you prevent BV?
Researchers don't know exactly what causes the bacterial changes that cause BV, but it has been linked to:

  • having multiple sex partners
  • having a new sex partner
  • douching

To reduce your chances of getting BV, avoid the above activities or keep them to a minimum. Condom use may reduce the risk of developing BV.

What should you do?
If you think you might have Bacterial Vaginosis (BV), make an appointment at your local Planned Parenthood health center to get examined and treated so you can get back to your normal and healthy life.


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