You can reduce the risk of bacterial vaginosis by maintaining good vaginal hygiene, opting for breathable underwear, incorporating probiotics into your routine, and employing additional preventive measures. These practices are also effective in minimizing the chances of recurrence following treatment.

Bacterial vaginosis, a prevalent vaginal infection, arises from an overabundance of specific bacteria in the vaginal environment. Symptoms may encompass odor, discharge, and discomfort, although often it presents asymptomatically.

This article delves into strategies for reducing the likelihood of contracting bacterial vaginosis or preventing its recurrence post-treatment.

Jump to Section

About BV | Symptoms | Recurrence prevention | Bottom line

What is bacterial vaginosis (BV)?

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common vaginal infection resulting from an imbalance of bacteria in the vagina. Normally, the vagina contains a delicate balance of beneficial bacteria (lactobacilli) and other microorganisms. However, when the balance is disrupted, harmful bacteria such as Gardnerella vaginalis can overgrow, leading to BV.

BV is not considered a sexually transmitted infection (STI), although it can increase the risk of contracting STIs such as HIV, herpes, chlamydia, and gonorrhea. The exact cause of BV isn’t always clear, but certain factors can increase the risk, including:

  1. Sexual Activity: While BV is not a sexually transmitted infection, having multiple sexual partners or a new sexual partner can increase the risk.
  2. Douching: Douching disrupts the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina and can increase the risk of BV.
  3. Antibiotics: Certain antibiotics can kill off beneficial bacteria, allowing harmful bacteria to flourish and leading to BV.
  4. Hormonal Changes: Fluctuations in hormone levels, such as those that occur during menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, can disrupt the vaginal environment and contribute to BV.
  5. Smoking: Smoking has been linked to an increased risk of BV, possibly due to its effects on the immune system.

BV is often characterized by symptoms such as a thin, white or gray vaginal discharge with a strong, fishy odor, especially after sex. However, some women with BV may experience no symptoms at all.

Left untreated, BV can lead to complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), increased risk of preterm birth and low birth weight during pregnancy, and an increased susceptibility to other sexually transmitted infections. Therefore, it’s crucial to seek prompt medical attention if you suspect you have BV.

What are the symptoms?

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) can manifest with various symptoms, although some individuals may experience no symptoms at all. The most common symptoms associated with BV include:

  1. Vaginal Discharge: BV often causes an unusual vaginal discharge that may be thin, watery, white, or gray in color. This discharge may have a noticeable fishy odor, especially after sexual intercourse or during menstruation. Unlike the discharge seen in yeast infections, which tends to be thick and cottage cheese-like, BV discharge is typically thin and homogeneous.
  2. Fishy Odor: One of the hallmark signs of BV is a strong fishy odor emanating from the vagina. This odor may become more pronounced after sexual activity or during menstruation due to changes in pH levels in the vagina.
  3. Itching or Irritation: Some individuals with BV may experience mild itching or irritation around the vaginal area. However, itching is less common in BV compared to yeast infections.
  4. Burning Sensation: BV can sometimes cause a mild burning sensation during urination, although this symptom is not as common as it is with urinary tract infections (UTIs).
  5. Discomfort During Intercourse: BV may lead to discomfort or pain during sexual intercourse, although this symptom is more commonly associated with other vaginal infections such as yeast infections or sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

It’s important to note that not all vaginal discharge or odor is indicative of BV. Other conditions, such as yeast infections or sexually transmitted infections, can cause similar symptoms. Therefore, it’s essential to consult a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment if you experience any unusual vaginal symptoms. Early detection and treatment of BV can help prevent complications and recurrence of the infection.

What can help prevent BV from coming back again?

If you’ve been diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis (BV), your healthcare provider will likely prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. Unfortunately, BV often recurs after a few months. However, implementing the following measures may help decrease the likelihood of recurring BV infections:

1. Maintain Vaginal Hygiene:

  • Avoid douching, as it can elevate your riskTrusted Source of developing BV.
  • After urination or bowel movements, wipe from front to back.
  • Change liners, pads, or tampons frequently.
  • Refrain from using scented or deodorizing vaginal products, including sprays and wipes.

2. Choose Breathable Underwear:

  • Opt for loose-fitting, lightweight underwear made from natural fabrics like cotton.
  • Consider using hypoallergenic laundry detergent if your vaginal area is prone to irritation.
  • Allow your vaginal area to breathe by going underwear-free at night, and change underwear or use panty liners if moisture accumulates during the day.

3. Consider Boric Acid Suppositories:

  • Boric acid, available over-the-counter (OTC) as a vaginal suppository, has historical use in maintaining vaginal health.
  • Some studies suggest its effectiveness when used alongside antibiotic treatment, although caution is advised due to potential risks.
  • Consult your healthcare provider before considering this option to ensure its safety for you.

4. Practice Safe Sex:

  • Consistently use condoms during intercourse to minimize exposure to semen, which can disrupt vaginal flora and increase BV risk.
  • Note that saliva during oral sex may also transfer bacteria into the vagina, potentially promoting BV growth.

5. Maintain Healthy Vaginal pH:

  • Monitor and regulate vaginal pH, aiming for a slightly acidic environment to deter bacterial overgrowth associated with BV.
  • Consider using gels containing lactic acid or other OTC options aimed at balancing vaginal pH.

6. Incorporate Probiotics:

  • Probiotic supplements containing lactobacilli bacteria may help maintain vaginal pH and prevent BV recurrence, although more research is needed.
  • Look for OTC probiotic supplements or probiotic-rich foods like yogurt.

7. Manage Stress Effectively:

  • High levels of stress, indicated by elevated cortisol levels, may contribute to BV recurrence.
  • Engage in stress-reducing activities such as exercise, deep breathing techniques, yoga, or other relaxation methods to promote overall well-being and vaginal health.

By implementing these strategies, you can potentially reduce the risk of BV recurrence and promote optimal vaginal health. Always consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice and treatment recommendations.

The bottom line

The bottom line is that while bacterial vaginosis (BV) can be a recurrent condition for some individuals, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of it coming back again. By practicing safe sex, avoiding douching, maintaining good hygiene, wearing breathable underwear, and limiting unnecessary antibiotic use, you can help support a healthy vaginal environment and prevent bacterial imbalances that contribute to BV recurrence.

Additionally, incorporating probiotic-rich foods into your diet and discussing the possibility of probiotic supplements with your healthcare provider may further support vaginal health by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria.

If you experience symptoms of BV or have recurrent infections, it’s crucial to seek prompt medical attention for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Your healthcare provider can offer personalized advice and treatment options to help manage BV and reduce the risk of recurrence.

Ultimately, prioritizing vaginal health through preventive measures and proactive healthcare can empower you to take control of BV and enjoy improved overall well-being. Remember to consult with your healthcare provider for guidance tailored to your individual needs and circumstances.

Jump to Section

About BV | Symptoms | Recurrence prevention | Bottom line

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *