When people talk about BV, they are commonly referring to Bacterial Vaginosis. Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is the most common form of vaginal infection in women. It occurs when there is an overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina that can lead to irritation and inflammation.
The symptoms include itching, burning, and a fishy odor.
The good news is that it’s easy to treat, and you don’t have to live with this condition for very long. However, that doesn’t mean that this infection isn’t uncomfortable and can cause an array of symptoms.
Symptoms Of BV
There are some symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) that are very common and happen in more than half of women who have them. Those symptoms include:
- Strong fishy smell that gets worse after sex
- White discharge that’s thin and water-like
- Discharge that’s gray or white instead of clear
- Painful intercourse
- Itching or burning throughout the day and night in the vaginal area.
- Overall discomfort in the vagina.
BV can also increase your risk of catching a sexually transmitted infection (STI). This is because your vagina will usually fight off any bad bacteria, but if you have BV, the bad bacteria have overpowered the good bacteria.
This means your vagina will not have the defenses it typically has against these diseases.
Bacterial vaginosis is an imbalance of bacteria in the vagina. A woman may experience itching, burning, irritation, discharge, pain during sex, and other signs and symptoms.
Symptoms typically last about two weeks but can persist longer. There is no cure for bacterial vaginosis. However, there are treatments available to help relieve the symptoms.
Can BV Cause Cramping And Bloating?
If you are experiencing cramping and bloating, these are common symptoms of your period. However, if you are experiencing these symptoms while you are not on your period, and they are alongside some other symptoms, then you could have BV.
If the cramping and bloating are occurring alongside a smelly or strange discharge, or itchiness and discomfort, then it could be because you have contracted bacterial vaginosis.
What Causes BV?
Bacterial Vaginosis is caused by a change in the normal balance of bacteria in your vagina. Normally, there are many types of bacteria present in your vagina. They keep each other at bay and work together to keep things healthy.
But sometimes, something changes in your body, and the balance of bacteria shifts. That shift can occur due to certain factors, such as:
- Having too much sugar in your diet
- Using antibiotics without first talking to your doctor
- Having sex with new partners
- Getting pregnant
- Taking birth control pills
- Being overweight
- Having diabetes
- Having a weakened immune system
- Having a yeast infection
- Having a urinary tract infection
- Having a UTI
Can Bacterial Vaginosis Lead To Other Infections?
Typically, BV won’t lead to other infections, but if left untreated for a long time, it can increase your risk for a few more infections. As mentioned earlier, BV can leave you more exposed to contracting an STD (sexually transmitted disease).
Therefore, if you have BV and are undergoing treatment for it, it is advised that you refrain from engaging in sexual activity and sexual intercourse until your course of medication has been completed and you no longer have BV.
If left untreated, BV can sometimes lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, where the damaging bacteria can reach the fallopian tubes and the uterus. This can lead to complications with fertility and can sometimes increase the risk of having an ectopic pregnancy, where the egg fertilizes in one of your tubes.
It is important to note that these can sometimes (not always) occur if you have left BV untreated. Therefore, as soon as you are experiencing any symptoms we have discussed that occur from having BV, it is crucial you seek treatment immediately.
Treatment For Bacterial Vaginosis
If you feel you may have contracted BV, the first thing you should do is visit your doctor. Your doctor will prescribe you a treatment plan that includes using over-the-counter medications and/or prescription medications.
You should use these treatments for a few days until the symptoms go away. After this time, you should continue to take care of yourself so that you don’t get re-infected. Some of the most commonly used treatments for BV include:
These are safe and effective ways to treat vaginal infections. These products contain ingredients that kill the bacteria causing the infection. The following are examples of OTC treatments for BV:
- Clindamycin cream
- Metronidazole gel
- Benzoyl Peroxide lotion
- Lactobacillus acidophilus capsules
These medicines are prescribed by your doctor after you’ve been treated with OTC treatments. They are usually taken orally. Prescription treatments for BV include the following:
- Ciprofloxacin tablets
- Doxycycline hyclate tablets
- Erythromycin estolate tablets
- Tinidazole tablets
Although Bacterial Vaginosis is very common, there are several things you can do to prevent catching it. Most of them involve being consistent with good vaginal hygiene, and sex hygiene. Some include:
- Don’t douche (your vagina is self-cleaning, so using a soap to clean it in the shower could react badly with the good bacteria that is already there)
- Use condoms during sex
- Get tested regularly for sexually transmitted diseases
- Wash your hands often
- Stay well hydrated
- Eat foods high in fiber
- Avoid alcohol
- Make sure you’re getting enough sleep
- Take probiotics – best probiotics for bv →
To conclude, Bacterial Vaginosis is very common and although it can be quite uncomfortable, it typically isn’t serious and won’t develop into anything worse as long as it is taken care of accordingly.
There are a few preventative measures you can take in order to avoid catching it.
As mentioned above, looking after your vaginal health, and being consistent with good hygiene practices, such as washing your hands before and after sex, eating lots of fiber rich food, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding using soaps when cleaning, will help keep your vagina healthy, and help the good bacteria do its work.
More often than not, if you do contract bacterial vaginosis, over the counter medications should clear it right up, but it is important to finish the course of medication, even if your symptoms disappear before the end of the course, and it is advised that you avoid sexual activity until the course of medication is complete.
We hope this article has provided you with useful information on BV!