- Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
is bacterial vaginosis?
vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal infection in
women of childbearing age, and it is sometimes accompanied
by discharge, odor, pain, itching, or burning.
What causes bacterial vaginosis?
cause of BV is not fully understood. BV is associated
with an imbalance in the bacteria that are normally found
in a woman's vagina. The vagina normally contains mostly
"good" bacteria, and fewer "harmful"
bacteria. BV develops when there is a change in the environment
of the vagina that causes an increase in harmful bacteria.
do women get bacterial vaginosis?
much is known about how women get BV. Women who have a
new sex partner or who have had multiple sex partners
are more likely to develop BV. Women who have never had
sexual intercourse are rarely affected. It is not clear
what role sexual activity plays in the development of
BV, and there are many unanswered questions about the
role that harmful bacteria play in causing BV. Women do
not get BV from toilet seats, bedding, swimming pools,
or from touching objects around them.
common is bacterial vaginosis?
studies suggest that BV is common in women of reproductive
age. In the United States, as many as 16% of pregnant
women have BV. BV is generally more commonly seen in women
attending STD clinics than in those attending family planning
or prenatal clinics.
are the signs and symptoms of bacterial vaginosis?
with BV often have an abnormal vaginal discharge with
an unpleasant odor. Some women report a strong fish-like
odor, especially after intercourse. The discharge is usually
white or gray; it can be thin. Women with BV may also
have burning during urination or itching around the outside
of the vagina, or both. Some women with BV report no signs
or symptoms at all.
is bacterial vaginosis diagnosed?
health care provider must examine the vagina for signs
of BV (e.g., discharge) and perform laboratory tests on
a sample of vaginal fluid to look for bacteria associated
is at risk for bacterial vaginosis?
woman can get BV. However, some activities or behaviors
can upset the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina
and put women at increased risk:
a new sex partner or multiple sex partners
an intrauterine device (IUD) for contraception.
women are at increased risk for complications of BV.
are the complications of bacterial vaginosis?
most cases, BV causes no complications. But there are
some serious risks from BV:
women with BV more often have babies who are born early
or with low birth weight.
bacteria that cause BV can sometimes infect the uterus
(womb) and fallopian tubes (egg canals). This type of
infection is called pelvic inflammatory
disease (PID). PID can cause
infertility or damage the fallopian tubes enough to increase
the future risk of ectopic pregnancy and infertility.
Ectopic pregnancy is a life-threatening condition in which
a fertilized egg grows outside the uterus, usually in
a fallopian tube.
can increase a woman's susceptibility to HIV
infection if she is exposed to the virus.
BV increases the chances that an HIV-infected
woman can pass HIV to her sex partner.
can increase a woman's susceptibility to other STDs, such
as chlamydia and gonorrhea.
should be treated for bacterial vaginosis?
BV will sometimes clear up without treatment, all women
with symptoms of BV should be treated to avoid such complications
as PID. Treatment is especially
important for pregnant women. All pregnant women, regardless
of symptoms, who have ever had a premature delivery or
low birth weight baby should be considered for a BV examination
and be treated when necessary. All pregnant women who
have symptoms of BV should be checked and treated. Male
partners generally do not need to be treated. However,
BV may spread between female sex partners.
is the treatment for bacterial vaginosis?
is treatable with antimicrobial medicines prescribed by
a health care provider. Two different medicines are recommended
as treatment for BV. Either can be used with non-pregnant
or with pregnant women, but the recommended dosages differ.
Women with BV who are HIV-positive should receive the
same treatment as those who are HIV-negative. BV can recur
can bacterial vaginosis be prevented?
is not completely understood by scientists, and the best
ways to prevent it are unknown. However, enough is known
to show that BV is associated with having a new sex partner
or having multiple sex partners. It is seldom found in
women who have never had intercourse.
Some basic prevention steps can help reduce the risk of
upsetting the natural balance in the vagina and developing
condoms correctly every time with every sex act.
the number of sex partners.
all of the medicine prescribed for treatment of BV, even
if the signs and symptoms go away.
CDC-DIVISION OF SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES PREVENTION
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