Learn more about bacterial vaginosis. There is no known cause for BV but certain factors are more common than others in women who are diagnosed with this condition. Most women who have BV are in their child-bearing years, between the ages of 15 – 44.
BV is twice as common among African-American women as it is among women of other racial backgrounds. About 1 in 4 of women who are pregnant will develop BV, perhaps due to hormonal changes.[
Women who don't use condoms, but do use intrauterine devices (IUDs), are more likely to get BV than those who use condoms or who are not sexually active.
BV is not the result of bad hygiene. You can get BV without having sex, but many women who are diagnosed with BV report having recent sexual activity with either male or female partners. Sexual activity includes vaginal, oral, and anal sex.
Men can not be diagnosed with BV.
How BV is spread
Although it is not clear how BV is transmitted, it is more common in women who are sexually active. It sometimes develops soon after intercourse with a new partner. Women who have female sexual partners may be at higher risk than women who have sex with only male partners.
Diagnosis of BV
Diagnosis is made based on signs and symptoms and lab tests. During a medical examination, your doctor may notice:
odor from the vagina
decreased acidity of the vaginal fluid on pH testing.
Treatment for BV
If you have no symptoms, treatment is usually not required as this condition is self-limiting (will go away by itself). Seek treatment if:
you are about to have a medical procedure that could allow bacteria into the uterus – for example, insertion of an IUD, or termination of pregnancy
you are pregnant – BV can cause early onset of labour. Talk to your GP, obstetrician or midwife about treatment for BV if you are pregnant
the symptoms of BV are affecting your quality of life and you are avoiding sex because of it.
Antibiotics are used to treat BV
An antibiotic called metronidazole can be used to treat the infection. If your doctor prescribes metronidazole you will need to:
Take the antibiotic twice a day for seven days.
Take the tablets after meals – this can reduce the nausea and upset stomach that is sometimes associated with metronidazole.
Avoid drinking alcohol during treatment.
Your doctor can prescribe a vaginal cream (such as clindamycin) if you are unable to take metronidazole. Clindamycin is applied to the vagina for seven nights.
Recurrences of BV
Even after treatment, about half of the women with BV will get the condition back within six to 12 months. Treating the male partner of an infected woman does not seem to reduce the risk of recurrence, but further research is being done in this area.
Prevention of BV
Most cases of BV appear to be associated with sexual activity. Condoms have been shown to protect against infection, and safe sexual practices are recommended for all women, regardless of the gender of their partners.
Dietary changes can contribute greatly when treating any health problem. You can follow some dietary tips that can help effectively in the healing process. You should take a diet low in saturated fats, as a high-fat diet can trigger and worsen bacterial vaginosis.
Saturated fats can decrease immunity and also affect the acidity of the vagina, enhancing the growth of harmful bacteria. Therefore, exclude saturated fats like butter, biscuits, and full-fat milk from your diet.
Vitamin E helps to improve the immune system and minimizes the risk of developing infections. Intake of foods rich in vitamin E such as spinach, broccoli, kiwi, and avocado is recommended. Make folate an important part of your diet as it helps to protect against bacterial vaginosis. Folic acid boosts immunity lowering the risk of infections. Folic acid can be obtained naturally from the foods like spinach, asparagus, avocado, and breakfast cereals.
Avoid eating foods rich in sugar as they may aggravate the infection. Choose to eat whole grain bread instead of white bread. Drink plenty of fruit juices made from blueberry or cranberry. These citrus fruits help to maintain the acidity of the vagina, eliminating the growth of harmful bacteria.