What Are The Symptoms Of Bv
Many women have no symptoms. If you do have symptoms, they may include:
- Unusual vaginal discharge. The discharge can be white or gray. It may also be foamy or watery. Some women report a strong fish-like odor, especially after sex.
- Burning when urinating
- Itching around the outside of the vagina
- Vaginal irritation
These symptoms may be similar to vaginal yeast infections and other health problems. Only your doctor or nurse can tell you for sure whether you have BV.
Who Needs Treatment For Bacterial Vaginosis
Not everyone with BV needs antibiotics. In some mild or low risk cases, the vagina will restore the balance of good bacteria and the condition will resolve on its own.
But other cases should be treated with antibiotics. Youll need treatment if you test positive for BV and:
You have significant symptoms.
You are pregnant, even if you don’t have symptoms. Treatment for BV is safe in pregnancy. Its also necessary to prevent complications in pregnancy that are caused by BV
Which Treatments Are Effective For Bacterial Vaginosis
Bacterial vaginosis can cause symptoms such as discharge with an unpleasant smell. The clindamycin and metronidazole are both effective treatments for bacterial vaginosis. There has not yet been enough research on the possible benefits of lactic acid treatments.
Bacterial vaginosis is quite common and caused by changes in the vaginal flora that allow the rapid growth of specific types of .
The infection can cause a thin, grayish-white discharge with an unpleasant smell, but it often goes undetected. If it does produce symptoms, can be used as an effective treatment, even during pregnancy. Treatment can help lower the slightly increased risk of miscarriage due to the infection, too.
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Testing The Acid Level Of Your Vagina
The discharge of BV has a typical pH level which is higher than normal vaginal pH.
pH is measured on a scale from 0 to 14 . Pure water, which is neutral has a pH of 7.
- The normal pH of the vagina is 3.8-4.5.
- As soon as the pH increases above 4.5, anaerobic bacteria start to overgrow and lactobacilli start to die off.
Your doctor or nurse may suggest that they take a sample of your discharge and test it with some pH paper. You can buy a kit from a pharmacy to do this test yourself at home.
How Can You Reduce Your Risk For Bv
Here are some things you can do to help protect yourself from BV:
- Dont have sex. BV isnt an STI, but youre more likely to get it if you have sex than if you dont.
- Limit the number of sex partners you have. Have sex with only one person who doesnt have other sex partners.
- Use a condom every time you have sex. Condoms are barrier methods of birth control. Barrier methods help prevent pregnancy by blocking or killing your partners sperm. Other kinds of birth control, like the pill and implants, dont protect you from STIs.
- Dont douche. Douching can remove normal bacteria in your vagina that can help protect you from infection.
- Use warm water only and no soap to clean the outside of your vagina. Always wipe front to back.
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Could Lactic Acid Bacteria Help
Lactic acid are believed to help restore healthy vaginal flora and suppress harmful bacteria, but treatments that use lactic acid bacteria are not as well tested as . There are hardly any studies testing them on their own they are usually used in combination with antibiotics. But no has been found that vaginosis clears up any better with this combination. Little is known about possible side effects.
How Can I Protect Myself If I Am A Female And My Female Partner Has Bv
If your partner has BV, you might be able to lower your risk by using protection during sex.
- Use a dental dam every time you have sex. A dental dam is a thin piece of latex that is placed over the vagina before oral sex.
- Cover sex toys with condoms before use. Remove the condom and replace it with a new one before sharing the toy with your partner.
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What Is The Best Medication For Bv
The best medication for bacterial vaginosis varies from person to person, and can only be determined by your healthcare provider. It will be based on your medical condition, medical history, and medications you may already be taking that could interact with bacterial vaginosis medication as well as your response to treatment. There may also be lifestyle and personal preferences regarding the use of a pill or topical gel/cream.
|Best medication for BV|
- Difficulty speaking
This is not a full list of side effects. You should always talk to a healthcare professional for a complete list of possible adverse events and drug interactions. If you think you are experiencing any adverse side effects from your medication, seek medical advice immediately.
Maintain Healthy Vaginal Ph
Maintaining a healthy vaginal pH is essential to preventing and treating BV. “BV occurs when there is an overgrowth of bacteria that is normally found in the vaginal canal,” Hill says, “Alterations in the vaginal pH allow the normal bacteria to flourish.”
Denniston concurs, adding that in addition to a proliferation of “multiple potentially pathogenic bacterial species,” BV is also characterized by a decrease in “normal lactobacillus species,” necessary in regulating vaginal flora. She notes that “healthy lactobacillus species decrease with intercourse without condoms, douching, lubricants, and antibiotics.”
Hill adds that engaging in unprotected sex with a new sexual partner can also upset vaginal pH.
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Can Vaginosis Be Treated During Pregnancy
Bacterial vaginosis that develops during pregnancy can slightly increase the risk of premature birth. The risk of a late-term miscarriage or stillbirth is also higher. In miscarriage or stillbirth, the child dies while still in the mothers body.
The advantages and disadvantages of antibiotic treatment were analyzed in a systematic review. Researchers analyzed 21 studies involving nearly 8,000 pregnant women. The results show that can lower the risk of late-term miscarriages:
- 2% of women who didn’t take had a late-term miscarriage.
- 0.3% of women who took had a late-term miscarriage.
Antibiotics had no influence on the risk of premature births or on stopping a womans water from breaking sooner. About 2% of the women stopped treatment due to side effects. There is no that used to treat bacterial vaginosis have any long-term side effects or are harmful for the child.
Most study participants experienced no symptoms and their infection was detected during other routine pregnancy tests. If bacterial vaginosis starts causing symptoms during pregnancy, it is usually treated anyway.
How Is Bacterial Vaginosis Treated
Antibiotics prescribed by your doctor are usually necessary to treat BV. These may be in the form of tablets or vaginal creams. BV tends to recur, so you may need to take more than one course of antibiotics. Always finish the course of treatment prescribed, even if you feel better halfway through.
Male sexual partners dont normally need to be treated for BV however, female sexual partners will need treatment.
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What Can Cause Bacterial Vaginosis
You are more likely to get BV:
- If you are sexually active.
- If you have recently changed your sexual partner. Frequent changes of sexual partner, or having more than one regular partner, increase the likelihood of BV further.
- If you have a past history of sexually transmitted infections .
- If you smoke.
- If you have a copper coil for contraception – an intrauterine contraceptive device .
- If your family has Afro-Caribbean origins.
- If you use bubble bath.
- If you have prolonged or heavy periods.
- Following hormonal changes. In some women BV seems to be triggered by the hormonal changes of puberty, pregnancy or the menopause. These are all conditions of changing vaginal acidity.
- Following courses of antibiotics. Courses of antibiotics tend to kill off all our good bacteria .
Other conditions which can upset vaginal pH or lactobacillus health, and which might be expected to increase the risk of BV include:
- Use of sex toys.
- Your partner has had a circumcision.
- You use condoms .
- You have showers, not baths.
Is Bv A Sexually Transmitted Disease
BV is not a sexually transmitted infection, according to Dean. However, having sex with a new partner, or multiple partners, may increase your risk for BV. “Sex sometimes leads to BV if your partner’s natural genital ‘chemistry’ changes the balance of bacteria in your vagina and causes the bacteria associated with BV to grow. If you have BV, your sexual partner with a penis generally does not need treatment for BV. BV may spread between partners with vaginas,” explains Dean. “Although BV is not an STI, having BV increases your chances of becoming infected with an STI, including HIV, if you are exposed to one. If you are HIV positive, untreated BV increases your chances of passing HIV along to your sex partners.”
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Should My Partner Be Treated For Bacterial Vaginosis
There is no evidence that treating a male sexual partner prevents his female sexual partner from developing BV. One small trial looked at whether using a sterilising alcohol gel on the penis protected their partners against BV – but the gel appeared to make BV more, rather than less, common in the women.
If you have a female partner then it does appear that treating her for BV at the same time as you – even if she doesn’t have symptoms – will prevent recurrence .
Bacterial Vaginosis Treatment Precautions
If you are taking metronidazole , drinking alcohol can make you violently ill. According to the FDA, its best to wait a minimum of 3 days after your bacterial vaginosis treatment ends before drinking alcohol again. But keep in mind, if youre taking any other medication, you might need to wait longer. Its best to ask a healthcare provider or pharmacist, as they can recommend a timeframe based on your individual health and medical history.
If your bacterial vaginosis treatment involves using clindamycin vaginally, youll need to be careful using latex condoms for protection. This is because clindamycin cream can weaken condoms to the point that they break.
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How Can I Lower My Risk Of Bv
Researchers do not know exactly how BV spreads. Steps that might lower your risk of BV include:
- Keeping your vaginal bacteria balanced. Use warm water only to clean the outside of your vagina. You do not need to use soap. Even mild soap can cause irritate your vagina. Always wipe front to back from your vagina to your anus. Keep the area cool by wearing cotton or cotton-lined underpants.
- Not douching. Douching upsets the balance of good and harmful bacteria in your vagina. This may raise your risk of BV. It may also make it easier to get BV again after treatment. Doctors do not recommend douching.
- Not having sex. Researchers are still studying how women get BV. You can get BV without having sex, but BV is more common in women who have sex.
- Limiting your number of sex partners. Researchers think that your risk of getting BV goes up with the number of partners you have.
What Should I Do If Antibiotics Did Not Clear Up My Bacterial Vaginosis
Unfortunately, this is a common problem. Around a third of women who take antibiotic treatment for bacterial vaginosis find that the problem recurs within the next two to three months. Some strains of BV organisms may have resistance to some antibiotics.
You should return to your healthcare provider and describe the problems you are having. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises clinicians on a variety of treatment strategies which can be tried if symptoms recur.
Simply trying another course of the antibiotics you used the first time may be appropriate. Be sure to take all doses of the antibiotic as prescribed and complete the full course — even if your symptoms seem to go away.
Alternatively, your healthcare provider may suggest a course of a different antibiotic, as an alternative to the one you used the first time. You could try antibiotics in a different form, for example as a vaginal gel rather than tablets.
For very persistent cases, the CDC suggests some more intensive regimens — for example, using a vaginal antibiotic gel twice a week for six months, or taking an antibiotic tablet as well as an anti fungal tablet once a month, on an ongoing basis.
Does My Partner Need Treatment If I Had Bacterial Vaginosis
If your sex partner has a penis, they typically dont need treatment. Its also worth noting that there is a lower chance of getting BV if:
Your partner is circumcised.
Your partner regularly uses a condom during sex.
You abstain from sex altogether.
If your sex partner has a vagina, then you should tell your partner. There is a 25% to 50% likelihood that they will also have BV, so they need to know what symptoms to look out for. If your partner starts experiencing symptoms, they will need a test and treatment for bacterial vaginosis to feel better just like you did.
When Should You Call Your Doctor
Bacterial vaginosis can be hard to distinguish from other types of vaginal infection. Consider the following if you have any signs of vaginal infection.
- Develop lower belly pain and a fever higher than 38.3Â°C along with a vaginal discharge.
- Are pregnant and have symptoms of a vaginal infection.
- Have vaginal discharge with an unusual or foul odour.
- Have vaginal itching.
- Have pain during sex or during urination.
- Develop any other discomfort or discharge that may mean you have a vaginal infection.
If you have not been diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis but you have symptoms that concern you, see:
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Treat With Intravaginal Boric Acid
Intravaginal boric acid is a handy over-the-counter remedy effectively used in balancing vaginal flora. “Boric acid, is a white powder or crystalline solid that acts similarly to a Monistat or a prescription antifungal like fluconazole meant to treat yeast infections,” says Hill, “Like antibiotics, boric acid is a strong antiviral and antifungal that lowers the vaginal pH and makes it more difficult for the bacteria that cause BV to grow…As a bonus, boric acid suppositories are both inexpensive and accessible.”
Is Bacterial Vaginosis Sexually Transmitted
No – BV can affect any woman, including those who do not have sex. However, BV is more common amongst sexually active women than amongst non-sexually active women.
A woman can’t ‘catch’ BV from intercourse with a man, but BV is more likely to develop after a change in sexual partner, as – for reasons we don’t really understand – this can affect the balance of normal germs in the vagina.
Women who have sex with other women can pass each other the condition. This is probably because the anaerobic bacteria on the body of the woman with BV have become particularly good at overwhelming the lactobacilli, and are able to take the opportunity to spread further..
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Can Bacterial Vaginosis Be Cured
BV will sometimes go away without treatment. But if you have symptoms of BV you should be checked and treated. It is important that you take all of the medicine prescribed to you, even if your symptoms go away. A health care provider can treat BV with antibiotics, but BV may return even after treatment. Treatment may also reduce the risk for some STDs.
Male sex partners of women diagnosed with BV generally do not need to be treated. BV may be transferred between female sex partners.
Ask About Boric Acid Suppositories
Boric acid has been used to maintain vaginal health for centuries. Its available over-the-counter as a vaginal suppository.
Some recommend using it alongside antibiotic treatment. A on the use of boric acid shows its a promising effective treatment.
A clinical trial is also being conducted to determine whether vaginal boric acid suppositories are as effective at treating BV as antibiotics. The results are pending.
Boric acid poses some serious risks. If taken by mouth, it can lead to poisoning and even death. Pregnant people shouldnt take boric acid, as it can pose risks to a developing fetus.
Speak to your healthcare provider if youre considering this option to make sure its safe for you.
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What If My Bv Comes Back
Itâs common for this infection to come back within a year. If that happens, talk to your doctor about treatments. They may prescribe extended-use metronidazole.
Can Probiotics Treat BV?
You might have considered taking these good bacteria as a way to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in your vagina.
There are at least seven types of bacteria that grow in the vagina. Lactobacillus is one of them. BV is linked to a decrease of lactobacillus, which is found in yogurt and acidophilus milk. Some studies suggest that eating foods that contain lactobacillus may be beneficial, but more research is needed.
Do not douche with yogurt or any other product. Vaginal douching is a risk factor for BV.