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STI fact sheet: Bacterial vaginosis

BV as it is commonly known is a condition that affects women due to an imbalance of bacteria in the vagina. It is replaced by an overgrowth of certain bacteria, accompanied by an odor, itching, burning, and a discharge. This is most common  in pregnant women and most women of child bearing age.

The cause of BV is not fully known; it is associated with an imbalance of bacteria that are usually resident in a woman's vagina most of which is "good" with fewer harmful bacteria. Therefore, it is most susceptible to an increase in harmful bacteria.  This means that anyone can get BV. However, there are some risk factors that can increase risk including douching and having multiple sex partners. However, women who do not have sexual intercourse can also be affected.

Some of the signs and include:

  • Abnormal discharge with an unpleasant fish like odor, especially after sex.
  • Burning during urination
  • Itching around the outside of the vagina
  • At times, there are times that symptoms are not visible

In most cases, BV has no complications but poses a lot of risk. These includes

  • It increases a woman's risk factor to contracting HIV when exposed
  • A woman can also easily pass the HIV virus if infected to her partner
  • BV is associated with an increase in the development of infections after surgical procedures such as an abortion
  • It may also pose challenges to a pregnant woman such as preterm delivery
  • BV also increases a woman's susceptibility to other STDs such as Chlamydia and Gonorrhea

Diagnosis and Treatment

BV can be diagnosed by a health care provider. S/he must examine the vagina for bacteria that are associated with BV. BV can clear up without treatment but can be treated with prescribed anti-biotics.