Cartoon image of bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) generally affects women. It’s when the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina is disrupted by an increase of more ‘harmful’ bacteria.

BV isn’t actually an STD. But having sex can increase your chance of getting it. As well, BV increases your risk of getting HIV if you have unprotected sex with someone who’s HIV infected. This is why it's included in the STD section.

How do you get bacterial vaginosis?

You can get bacterial vaginosis from activities that disrupt the vagina’s natural balance of bacteria. One such activity is having sex. But there are other activities that increase your risk of getting it.

These activities include:

  • Using a harsh soap
  • Douching
  • Leaving a tampon in for too long
  • Using particular contraceptives, such as a diaphragm
  • Having a new sex partner or multiple partners

You cannot get BV from toilet seats, swimming pools, or bedding.

How can you protect yourself against bacterial vaginosis?

We’ve much to learn about bacterial vaginosis and how to prevent it.
What we do know is BV is associated with behaviours that disrupt the balance of vaginal bacteria.

So to prevent BV you could try to:

  •     Avoid harsh soap and vaginal douches
  •     Wash with clean water and pH neutral soap
  •     Use sanitary pads instead of tampons
  •     Avoid using contraceptives like diaphragms
  •     Limit your number of sex partners

However, even if you do all this, it’s still possible to get bacterial vaginosis.

What are the signs that you've got bacterial vaginosis?

Most women with bacterial vaginosis, or BV, have no symptoms. This is because for most women, it's a harmless bacterial overgrowth. However, for some women, this overgrowth produces unpleasant symptoms.

Bacterial vaginosis symptoms can include:

  • Creamy white or grey vaginal discharge
  • Strong vaginal odour sometimes smelling of rotten fish
  • Pain when you urinate
  • Itching around the outside of the vagina
  • Redness and swelling of labia and the outside of the vagina

You can find photo examples of abnormal bacterial vaginosis discharge here.  

What happens if you don't do anything about bacterial vaginosis?

If you do nothing about bacterial vaginosis, in itself it shouldn’t usually cause you any serious health problems.

Untreated BV becomes a problem if you have unprotected sex with someone who’s HIV positive. It then increases your risk of getting HIV. And if you have unprotected sex with someone infected with genital herpes, gonorrhoea, or Chlamydia, having untreated BV increases your risk of getting these STDS too.

How do you get tested for bacterial vaginosis?

A doctor or health care provider can examine you for signs of bacterial vaginosis. Sometimes a sample can be taken using a swab and tested for it in a lab.

How do you get rid of bacterial vaginosis?

If you’ve got bacterial vaginosis, it can sometimes clear up on its own. However, if it doesn’t, it’s curable with antibiotics.

A doctor will prescribe you antibiotics, possibly metronidazole or clindamycin. While you're on the medication don’t drink alcohol because it can stop the antibiotics working properly, and give you unpleasant side effects like nausea. During this time, you must also stop having sex because it can stimulate BV to develop again.

Did you learn something new?

justin ositu
Tue, 10/07/2014 - 06:34 pm
loosing virginity is oneself control,by either having sex once amonth or avoiding several & diffren size of penis penetrating through agirl' vergina.this can improve one's virginity.
justin ositu
Tue, 10/07/2014 - 06:34 pm
loosing virginity is oneself control,by either having sex once amonth or avoiding several & diffren size of penis penetrating through agirl' vergina.this can improve one's virginity.
Tue, 10/21/2014 - 12:01 am
hi pls i feel so guilty that i lost my virginity wen i was young now i have a fiance and have always told him that am virgin how do i do it first to try go it back. pls help me out i want to feel how it feels to loose virginity
Love Matters
Tue, 10/21/2014 - 11:14 am

In reply to by shifrah

Hi Shifrah, well, you can't get your virginity back. Being a virgin means not having had sex before, and you did, so you aren't a virgin anymore. It's unfortunate you didn't tell your fiance the truth. But many men (and women) think virginity is important, so we understand why you did it. We suggest you just relax about it. It will be the first time with your fiance. And that is really special.
Being a virgin is so important because God said it in bible dat we should not have sex with with our boyfriend or girlfriend untill dey are married couples my grandmother always tell me dat why are nowadays boys and girls are always in hunger for sex if you hv patient enough you will hv sex with your future wife/husband as how many times as you want infact one day you will surely say you are tired of having sex There is time for everything in this world just be patient and wait for your time
Fri, 05/08/2015 - 08:15 pm

In reply to by shifrah

Hae just tighten ur pussy svreem harder when he fucks you mmmmh make sure u gv him when u having ur periods so as u shade some bloood try that
Love Matters
Tue, 01/12/2016 - 12:55 pm

In reply to by shifrah

Hi Shifrah, sorry for the guilt trip that you are going through. Virginity is surrounded by many myths and once you get to understand it it will remove most if not all your worries. Read this and find out more
Tue, 10/21/2014 - 12:22 am
Had sex like twice before one start her period like age 7-9yrs, does it mean d person s still a virgin. Or if d person later have sex @ d age of 26yrs will she call herself virgin.
Hi there, first things first: having sex at the age of 7-9 is illegal. Children of this age cannot give consent, as they don't understand the concept and consequences of sex. Not to mention that their bodies aren't ready yet. So please, please, please don't ever consider this! Secondly, virginity has nothing to do with age. Being a virgin means that a person hasn't had intercourse yet. Yet again, different people have different opinions on what virginity means. Some would consider people who had oral or anal sex only virgins, others wouldn't. Others only consider consensual sex as having had sex.
Hi if someone musturbate will he be still vargin?
Love Matters
Mon, 10/27/2014 - 09:04 pm

In reply to by babu

Hi Babu, usually, people consider intercourse as the point where people lose their virginity. But some probably would say people who masturbate are no longer virgins. It's really up to you to decide what virginity means to you?
Hi Ninah, no, you don't necessarily feel pain. Especially if you are very aroused and your partner is gentle, chances are it won't be very painful.
Moha, there is no need to 'break' anything, and certainly not with force. Have a look at these articles, they might help you have a look at these articles, they might help you:
During the reed dance in Swaziland, the girls are checked for virginity. They show them going before an old lady and lying down with their legs open. So how do these old ladies make sure that the girl is still a virgin?
Sida, unless the old ladies know something we don't, there is no way of telling if a girl has had sex before, as the hymen can get damaged during other activities, such as sports or using a tampon.
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