Bacterial vaginosis is a condition whereby there is too much of a specific type of bacteria in the vagina. It affects the balance of bacteria in the vagina. However, it’s not a sexually transmitted infection. It presents as vaginal discharge with a fish-like odour that is thin, grey, or white.
How does BV spread?
It’s mostly common among girls and women aged 15-44. Researchers aren’t entirely certain what causes BV. It does occur more frequently among women who are sexually active. Bacterial vaginosis does increase the risk of contracting STIs and it can also make pregnant women go into labour prematurely.
Studies show that bacterial vaginosis is more common in Africa. It happens when there is a decrease in Lactobacili bacteria which produces hydrogen peroxide. This then causes the overgrowth of Gardnerella vaginalis and other vaginal bacteria.
Bacterial vaginosis can occur under specific conditions such as sharing sex toys. It also occurs more frequently among women who are sexually active, and women who have sex with other women.
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Risk factors of bacterial vaginosis
This condition is more common among women who are sexually active. It can be caused by a new or long-time partner whose semen or vaginal mucus affects the pH balance of the vagina. Bacterial vaginosis increases the risk of getting STIs because it increases the risk of pathogens getting access to the upper genital tract. It reduces the impact of compounds within the vagina that fight infections. Do’s And Don’ts For A Healthy Vagina
Bacterial vaginosis is also more likely to occur if you have had infections before. Other risk factors include:
- using specific antibiotics
- vaginal douching
- using intrauterine devices
- cigarette smoking
- using perfumed hygiene products
- sex without condoms
- sharing sex toys
It’s important to remember that you can’t get BV from toilet seats, bedding, bathtubs or swimming pools. BV isn’t an STI because it can occur among people who have never had sexual intercourse. It’s simply the overgrowth of anaerobic bacteria which is caused by external factors. An STI, by definition, requires the transmission of a pathogen into body tissues.
What happens if you don’t get treatment?
It’s important to get treatment for bacterial vaginosis when you start experiencing symptoms. When you leave BV untreated, it makes it easier to contract an STI. It also makes it easier to transmit an STI to a sex partner.
If you undergo abdominal or vaginal surgery such as a hysterectomy, leaving bacterial vaginosis untreated increases the risk of infection. It can also lead to pelvic inflammatory disease which is an infection that affects the ovaries and fallopian tubes and increases the risk of infertility.
Bacterial vaginosis also increases the risk of pre-term birth and low-weight birth.
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How to prevent BV
Don’t use scented products to wash your vaginal areas. Use water and plain soap to clean the outside area. The vagina is self-cleaning. You don’t need to insert any soapy product into the canal. If you need to rinse the area, use plain warm water. Scented products may contain harsh products that inflame vaginal tissue and affect the vaginal microbiota.
Don’t douche. The vagina doesn’t need to be cleaned with harsh chemicals. Most douche packets contain mixtures of water with vinegar, baking soda, or iodine. A normal shower or bath is enough to clean the vagina.
Avoid using sex toys that haven’t been sanitised. 7 Ways To Take Good Care Of Your Sex Toys
To avoid having a partner’s saliva or semen from affecting the vaginal flora, use mouth dams or condoms. Bacterial vaginosis doesn’t cause extreme complications but it’s important to prevent or treat it to avoid any further problems.
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