Bacterial vaginosis is a type of vaginal infection caused by the overgrowth of certain kinds of bacteria in the vagina. Bacteria can grow too much for several reasons. Usually something in the woman’s environment, whether it’s irritating products or sexual intercourse, disturbs the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina. This means some kinds can overtake the other kinds. BV is easier to deal with when you’re knowledgeable about it. Here are five things every woman should know about BV.
1. The first noticeable symptom is often a fishy odor
This can really clue you in to what you’re dealing with if you think you might have bacterial vaginosis. A strong, fishy odor coming from the vagina is the first sign women notice, and it’s often what makes them realize there’s a problem. This bad vaginal odor won’t go away with washing and is hard to cover up. The only way to get rid of the foul smelling vaginal odor is to treat the infection.
2. Irritation symptoms aren’t always present
Some women think that because they aren’t experiencing itching, burning, or other similar symptoms, they aren’t suffering from an infection. The fishy odor gets written off as poor hygiene or a change in diet. An important thing to keep in mind is that irritation symptoms may not appear with all infections. They are common, but they aren’t necessary for a diagnosis.
3. Risky sexual behavior can put you at a higher risk for contracting BV
There are some risk factors that can make you more likely to contract bacterial vaginosis, and most of these are related to sexual activity. Anything defined as “risky” sexual behavior tends to raise your chances of getting BV. Having multiple sex partners, frequent new partners, or taking part in unprotected sex can all put you at risk.
4. BV isn’t dangerous, unless you’re pregnant
Bacterial vaginal infections and yeast infections aren’t typically dangerous to the woman. Of course, they do produce unpleasant symptoms, but a vaginal infection rarely “gets worse” if left untreated (with the exception of STIs). However, if you’re pregnant, BV can cause some unexpected complications. Pregnant women with untreated BV have been found to have premature babies or babies with a low birth weight.
5. The antibiotics used to treat BV can cause yeast infections
A problem many women have with the prescription medication used to treat bacterial vaginosis is that it causes a yeast infection a few weeks later. This is because the medicine kills both the healthy and unhealthy bacteria and fungi. With nothing stopping Candida, the fungus causing yeast infections, from growing, it sometimes takes over the vagina. As an alternative to getting stuck in the cycle of vaginal infections, some women choose home remedies for BV. These usually make use of some food item or natural oil to restore balance to the vagina.