Do you know what’s better than an effective treatment for bacterial vaginosis (BV)? Preventing BV altogether!
Bacterial vaginosis is the most common vaginal infection in people with vaginas between the ages of 15-44. And while BV is very common and treatable, it’s no fun at all.
Here’s how to prevent BV in the first place. And how to prevent BV from coming back!
Bacterial vaginosis is caused by an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the vagina. When there aren’t enough good bacteria in the vagina, other harmful bacteria have room to grow and spread. The type of bacteria that helps keep vaginas healthy is called Lactobacillus.
Bacterial vaginosis occurs when there aren’t enough Lactobacillus and too much of another type of bacteria called anaerobes. The type of bacteria that usually causes BV is called Gardnerella vaginalis.
BV can develop whenever something disrupts the balance of bacteria in the vagina. Research shows that BV is more likely in people who are sexually active. But BV can happen to anyone with a vagina.
Bacterial vaginosis is also linked to:
While it’s not possible to prevent BV in all cases, you can take steps to make BV less likely.
BV is not a sexually transmitted infection. It does not spread in pools, hot tubs or shared bedding. You can't get BV from using the same toilet seat as someone who has BV. You also can’t get BV from touching the same surface as someone who has BV.
But you can prevent BV by avoiding or limiting activities that can disrupt the balance of bacteria in the vagina.
Remember, vaginas aren’t meant to be odor-free. Healthy vaginas smell! And you don’t need any special cleansing products to keep your vagina clean.
The vagina keeps itself clean through normal secretions. Harsh soaps and douching can actually make BV more likely. Even washing the vagina with plain water can make it harder for good bacteria in your vagina to protect against harmful germs.
To promote vaginal health, skip the drugstore aisle full of sprays, deodorants and special soaps. These products aren’t necessary or helpful in preventing BV.
Instead, wash the vulva (the outer part of the genital area) with plain water during routine bathing. Mild and unscented soap without added colors are also okay. This routine won’t cure BV at home. But it will promote a healthy balance of vaginal flora.
Probiotics from supplements and fermented foods that contain Lactobacillus might help prevent and treat bacterial vaginosis. But research in this area of treatment options has shown mixed results.
Some research shows that using probiotics for BV may help when combined with a course of antibiotics. This is especially promising in people who have repeat cases of BV. However, it’s not known how much or which type of probiotics work best.
If you’re interested in probiotic supplements, be sure to talk to your medical provider first. They can help you find a good brand that contains the right strains of bacteria for your health goals.
Several effective BV prescription antibiotics treat BV.
Some bacterial vaginosis treatments medications are put directly into the vagina. Oral options—like BV pills and granules—are swallowed.
People who deal with recurrent cases may need repeat treatment with antibiotics. Effective treatment for BV should also be combined with safe sex and good hygiene practices.
Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include a watery discharge, thin white discharge or vaginal discharge that looks gray or greenish, a strong vaginal smell including a fishy vaginal odor, vaginal irritation or itching and burning with urination. If you have any of these symptoms, you might have BV.
You can access bacterial vaginosis treatment online—discreetly and conveniently—through Dr. B. Start a virtual health assessment. We’ll connect you with a licensed medical provider to discuss BV medicine options. If they find a bacterial vaginosis prescription appropriate for you, they’ll call it into your pharmacy of choice.
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