is Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)?
It is a change in the normal bacteria
of the vagina.What causes BV?
cause of BV is unknown. There are many bacteria that live in a normal vagina.
When you have BV, there are not enough “good” bacteria. This causes harmful bacteria
to grow in the vagina, causing the vaginal environment to be out of balance.What
are the symptoms?
Most women with BV have no symptoms at all. Sometimes
a woman has more vaginal discharge than usual. The discharge might be milky with
a “fishy” odor. The odor can be worse after sex. Other symptoms women may experience
include itching or burning in or near the vagina.How
serious is BV?
BV is usually not serious. In some cases, however,
it can cause infections in the uterus and fallopian tubes. It is important to
treat BV, especially before having an IUD inserted, an abortion, or tests done
on the uterine lining. BV during pregnancy may cause the baby to be born too soon.How
can I find out if I have BV?
The clinician will do a few simple
tests in the clinic. Looking at the vaginal discharge under the microscope for
bacteria and checking the acid level of the vagina are two tests that help the
clinician decide if a woman has BV.How is BV treated?
The clinician can prescribe an antibiotic, taken by mouth, called metronidazole
or Flagyl®. There is also a vaginal cream. This medicine can cause nausea or a
metal aftertaste in the mouth for some people. Take it with food. DO NOT DRINK
ALCOHOL ANY TIME WHILE TAKING THIS MEDICINE. This medicine can cause severe
nausea and vomiting when combined with alcohol. Either use a condom or do not
have sex until you have finished taking the antibiotic. The clinician can order
antibiotic vaginal creams or gels which work just as well, but the cost is higher.
The side effects are less with vaginal antibiotics.What
about my partner?
Your partner does not need to be treated because
BV has not been proven to be a sexually transmitted infection.How
can I prevent BV?
Some women get BV again and again. It is not clear
why or how this happens. These suggestions for good vaginal health may help:
- Wipe from front to back (away from the vagina) after bowel movements to avoid
spreading bacteria from the rectum to the vagina.
- Keep the vulva (outside
of the vagina) dry and clean.
- DO NOT DOUCHE. Douching is never
a good idea, especially with BV.
- Avoid feminine hygiene sprays, harsh
soaps, or soaps with lots of perfume.
- Avoid clothing that can trap moisture:
pantyhose (wear pantyhose with cotton crotch) or latex exercise clothing.
condoms may decrease BV recurrence for some women.
million women in the U.S. have no health insurance.
Of these, 8 million are
Feminist Women's Health Center