For sexually active women, the threat of STD/STIs and other infections is a fact of life. Educating yourself is the first step to stay healthy and live the fullest life possible. HealthLynked is here to help, offering real talk on bacterial vaginosis, a common medical issue that affects one in three American women (Cleveland Clinic). Update Oohvie with symptoms, lifestyle changes, and cycle conditions to automatically share information with your healthcare provider.
What Is Bacterial Vaginosis?
Bacterial vaginosis (BV), also known as Gardnerella, is an infection inside the vagina that occurs when there’s an imbalance of natural bacteria. The vagina contains a network of both good and bad bacteria (a microbiome) just like the digestive tract does. When these levels are off-balance, patients begin to experience the symptoms of BV (Cleveland Clinic).
Is Bacterial Vaginosis an STD/STI?
BV isn’t technically an STD, though it does occur in women who are sexually active and is also the most common vaginal issue for women ages 15-44 (CDC). Some research suggests sex changes the hormonal and bacterial environment within the vagina, encouraging bacterial overgrowth (Cleveland Clinic).
BV can lead to serious health complications if left untreated. Patients with BV are at higher risk for STDs/HIV and pelvic inflammatory diseases (PID) that can cause problems becoming pregnant in the future. Women who are already pregnant and have untreated BV risk early labor (CDC).
What Causes Bacterial Vaginosis?
The cause of BV is still a bit of a mystery to healthcare professionals and researchers. While we know that BV links to sexual activity, there’s no evidence suggesting that treating a sexual partner for BV has any effect on a woman’s status (CDC). Women are generally considered to be at increased risk for BV if they have a new sex partner, multiple sex partners, smoke, douche, do not use condoms, or have an intrauterine birth control device (CDC). You cannot get BV from a toilet seat, blankets/bedding, or swimming pools, but beware of scented feminine products like sprays or tampons as they can irritate the skin and increase your risk for BV (WebMD, 2020).
Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis
The Cleveland Clinic estimates that 84% of women with BV have no discernible symptoms. BV is often be mistaken for other medical conditions like yeast infections (Cleveland Clinic). Remember that a yeast infection usually has no odor and is accompanied by a cottage cheese-like discharge (WebMD, 2020). When BV presents symptoms, patients report:
- Burning during urination.
- Fishy smells, especially after intercourse.
- Soreness or itching inside or outside the vagina.
- White, gray, or green discharge.
If you’re experiencing these or any other usual smells, reactions, or symptoms, including fever or pain during sex, update your status in the Oohvie app and make an appointment through HealthLynked to see your provider.