Researchers don’t know what causes bacterial vaginosis, but it’s quite common and treatable. At Apple Hill Gynecology, Dr. Marsha Bornt and her team have helped many women who were dealing with the discomfort of bacterial vaginosis. Here, we describe what you need to know about the condition.
Bacterial vaginosis basics
Researchers may not know what causes bacterial vaginosis, but doctors know what the result is—an imbalance in the normal bacteria in the vagina. All kinds of bacteria, both good and harmful exist in your vagina all the time, but when one type or another overgrows, the result is bacterial vaginosis.
Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis
The symptoms of bacterial vaginosis are often quite uncomfortable. You may notice:
- A vaginal discharge that’s usually thin and gray, white, or green
- A bad smell, often described as “fishy”
- A burning sensation when you urinate
You may not have all of these symptoms, and some women don’t have any of them.
Some women develop a condition called vaginitis or vulvovaginitis when they have bacterial vaginosis. This is an inflammation of the tissue of your vagina. Vaginitis can cause similar symptoms, along with pain during intercourse.
Risk factors for bacterial vaginosis
People who have sex get bacterial vaginosis, while those who do not only rarely do. You cannot get bacterial vaginosis from contact with toilet seats, swimming pools, or bedding.
Some things increase the likelihood of getting bacterial vaginosis, including:
- A new sexual partner
- Not using condoms
- Multiple sex partners
It’s possible to get bacterial vaginosis when you’re pregnant, and it’s important to seek treatment. Bacterial vaginosis is associated with low birth weight and premature birth.
If you have bacterial vaginosis, it’s important to get treatment because your risk of contracting other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is higher when you have bacterial vaginosis.
Treatments for bacterial vaginosis
If you do have bacterial vaginosis, Dr. Bornt will likely prescribe antibiotics. Experts say that around 30% of cases of bacterial vaginosis resolve without any treatment, but there are risks. Some women, about 10-15%, require additional treatment.
Bacterial vaginosis is not considered an STI, and partners don’t need treatment. There’s no risk of passing the condition back and forth between partners. However, around 80% of women have bacterial vaginosis again.
Bacterial vaginosis is uncomfortable, and it can lead to other issues such as an increased risk of contracting a serious STI, as well as complications with pregnancy. Diagnosis usually involves an exam, along with diagnostic tests.
If you suspect you may have bacterial vaginosis, schedule an appointment today. Treatment can resolve your discomfort and limit other risks.