Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common condition and can affect any woman. BV has noticeable symptoms like a change in vaginal odor and discharge.
If left untreated, BV can increase the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and cause other complications. Luckily, BV can be easily treated with prescribed medication.
Continue reading to learn more about BV and treatments to improve your vaginal health.
Medically reviewed by Dr. Adrian Rawlinson
Written by our editorial team Last reviewed 04 January 2024
Bacterial vaginosis is the most common vaginal condition affecting women between the ages of 15 and 44. In the United States, BV is estimated to affect around 21.2 million women (29.2%) aged 14 to 49.
Although BV can be triggered by sex, it is not an STI. You may be more likely to get an STI if you have BV. This is because it changes the acidity of the vagina and reduces your natural protection against infections.
Researchers don’t fully understand the cause of BV however, the condition most commonly occurs in sexually active people.
BV occurs when there is an imbalance of the bacteria normally present in the vagina. A type of healthy bacteria called Lactobacillus makes lactic acid which keeps the vagina slightly acidic. This stops bad bacteria from overgrowing.
In people with BV, the normal good bacteria are replaced by bad bacteria. This imbalance leads to the infection.
Anything that upsets the balance of bacteria in your vagina can increase your risk of getting BV, this includes:
Some people with BV may not notice any symptoms, while others may have symptoms that vary in severity. Some bacterial vaginosis symptoms include:
These symptoms may be similar to other vaginal infections. This is why it is important to see your doctor or nurse to get a proper diagnosis.
Although men cannot directly get BV, they may experience similar symptoms resulting from an imbalance in their genital microbiota. Men with symptoms may be dealing with another condition.
Both BV and yeast infections are vaginal conditions that increase the amount of vaginal discharge produced. There are some key differences between the two:
|Thin and white/gray
|Thick and creamy (cottage cheese-like)
|Strong ‘fishy’ smell
|Usually no strong odor
|Antifungals (may be available over-the-counter without a prescription)
Vaginitis is soreness and swelling in and around the vagina. It is common and can have many causes including thrush, STIs or hormonal changes. Some symptoms may include vaginal discharge, dryness or sore, swollen or cracked skin around the vagina.
To diagnose BV, your doctor will ask about your medical and sexual history. They may also:
If you get BV during pregnancy, it’s important to treat it quickly. Research shows that having BV increases your risk of certain pregnancy-related complications, such as:
Pregnant women can be treated with any of the recommended regimens for nonpregnant women. Data has shown that treatment with metronidazole has a low risk during pregnancy.
Using condoms correctly and consistently may help prevent BV, but they are not completely protective.
Some other things you can do to lower your risk of BV include:
You should always talk to a doctor before trying to treat BV at home. Some home remedies people have used include:
These are live bacteria and can be found in some foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, or kefir. You can also take probiotics as a supplement.
Using probiotics can help the vaginal flora by increasing the beneficial bacteria and reducing the number of harmful bacteria. This can create a stable environment vaginal flora environment. Some research shows that taking antibiotics and probiotics together reduces the chance of BV returning compared with taking antibiotics alone.
There haven’t been many studies conducted to investigate the use of boric acid in BV. Talk to your doctor before considering this option. Boric acid should not be used in pregnancy or be taken by mouth as it is toxic.
BV is easily treatable and cured. An antibiotic tablet called Flagyl (containing metronidazole 500 mg) can be used to treat BV. This can be prescribed online for you here at SpeedyHealth after completing a consultation.
Other bacterial vaginosis treatments include:
It’s important to complete your course of this medication, even if you start to feel better. If you stop taking it early, there is a risk that BV will come back.
Although it can be uncomfortable, BV generally doesn’t cause serious any complications. However, if it’s left untreated it may:
You can buy Metronidazole, the treatment for BV online from SpeedyHealth by completing a quick online consultation. Once your consultation has been submitted, one of our registered doctors will check to see whether or not this medication is suitable for you.
If your consultation is approved, your prescription will be sent to our pharmacy and delivered promptly to you.
If this medicine is not suitable for you, you will not be charged.
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