Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)

Bacterial vaginosis is a type of vaginal overgrowth of bacteria naturally found in the vagina, which upsets the natural balance. It is most commonly found in sexually active women between the ages 15- 44 years. 

BV and lesbian women

Lesbians who seek care at STD clinics have been found to have approximately twice the rate of bacterial vaginosis compared to heterosexual women attending the same clinics.

How is BV spread?

The exact causes of BV have not yet been discovered. However, it has been found to be prevalent among sexually active women. Also cases of BV have been higher for women with multiple sexual partners.

However, some women who’ve never had sex have also shown the prevalence of BV, although this number is marginal.

What are the symptoms of BV?

Bacterial vaginosis signs and symptoms may include:

·         Thin, gray, white or green vaginal discharge

·         Foul-smelling "fishy" vaginal odor

·         Vaginal itching

·         Burning during urination

Many women with BV however, show no symptoms

What complications can result from BV?

What complications can result from BV?

1.   It increases the risk of acquiring and transmitting HIV

2.   It increases risk of acquiring and transmitting other STIs like Chlamydia, gonorrhoea, herpes

3.   BV can cause a pregnant woman to give a premature birth and can also lead to low birth weight of the baby

4.   Rarely, BV can also cause Pelvic Inflammatory syndrome which can make it impossible for a woman to get pregnant

How is BV diagnosed?

1.   Physical examination of the pelvic area by the doctor

2.   Examination of vaginal fluids in  the laboratory

How can BV be prevented?

Since the cause of BV are not clear, there is no sure way of preventing it. However, according to Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the following may reduce the risk of getting the infection:

·         Not having sex;

·         Limiting your number of sex partners; and

·         Not douching

How can BV be treated?

BV will sometimes go away without treatment. But if you have symptoms of BV you should be checked and treated. It is important that you take all of the medicine prescribed to you, even if your symptoms go away. A health care provider can treat BV with antibiotics, but BV may return even after treatment. Treatment may also reduce the risk for some STDs.

Male sex partners of women diagnosed with BV generally do not need to be treated. BV may be transferred between female sex partners.

References:

1)   https://www.cdc.gov/std/bv/stdfact-bacterial-vaginosis.htm

2)   https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bacterial-vaginosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20352279