Common Causes and Risk Factors of Bacterial Vaginosis

Monday, January 10, 2022

     Bacterial vaginosis, or BV for short, is a condition that many women suffer from. It is a common vaginal infection that can be caused by various factors. The Centers for Disease Control estimate that about 30% of US women suffer from bacterial vaginosis. This article will discuss the most common symptoms and risk factors of bacterial vaginosis and the most common and effective treatment and prevention methods.

Common Causes and Risk Factors of Bacterial Vaginosis
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Common Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis

1. Unusual Vaginal Discharge (Gray, White, or Yellow)

     Bacterial vaginosis is most commonly characterized by a white, gray, or yellow discharge. The discharge may be thick, watery, or have a fishy odor.

2. Vaginal and Vulva Irritation (Burning and Itching)

     The vagina can sometimes become irritated, which is often characterized by itching or burning. This irritation may only occur during sexual intercourse.

3. Painful Urination

     Some women have mild discomfort when peeing, but severe pain in the vaginal area while peeing may be a sign of bacterial vaginosis.

4. Pain/Pressure in the Pelvic Region

     Bacterial vaginosis can cause pain and pressure in the pelvic region, especially during sex.

5. Swelling and Redness of the Vagina

     The vagina may become swollen and red due to the infection. This is more common in women who have bacterial vaginosis often.

6. Pain During Sexual Intercourse

     The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists estimate that over half of women will experience uncomfortable symptoms such as these at some point in their lifetime.

Risk Factors of Bacterial Vaginosis

1. Sexual Activity

     Bacterial vaginosis is often caused by having unprotected sexual intercourse with multiple partners. The bacteria that cause the condition are passed from one person to another and can quickly multiply if left untreated.

2. Douching

     Douching refers to the act of washing out your vagina with water or other cleansing agents in order to remove any unwanted vaginal secretions. However, this practice is not recommended due to its tendency to upset the natural balance between good and bad bacteria in your body. It can also increase a woman's risk for developing bacterial vaginosis by upsetting this balance and allowing harmful bacteria to overgrow.

Common and Effective Treatment and Prevention Methods of Bacterial Vaginosis

1. Yogurt

     Yogurts that contain the active bacterial culture lactobacillus are known to reduce symptoms of bacterial vaginosis. This method is most effective when practiced daily but can also be used after intercourse as an emergency measure if necessary. Be sure not to use yogurt with added sugar or other artificial ingredients; plain, unsweetened yogurt is the best option.

2. Probiotic Supplements

     Another way to treat BV with dairy products is by using probiotic drinks such as Yakult or Activia. Probiotics are supplements that contain living microorganisms. They serve to restore the natural balance of bacteria within your body and reduce symptoms of bacterial vaginosis. Probiotics can be found in many forms, including pills, powders, liquids, or vaginal gels. You should consult with a doctor before using any type of probiotic product.

3. Metronidazole

     Metronidazole is an antibiotic that is prescribed to treat bacterial vaginosis. It comes in the form of a pill, cream, or gel and can be purchased over-the-counter or through a prescription from your doctor. Metronidazole is effective at killing the bacteria that cause bacterial vaginosis and usually eliminates symptoms within days.

4. Suppository

     An alternative to taking a pill or applying a cream is using suppositories. Suppositories are inserted into the vagina and dissolve directly against the wall of your vaginal canal, delivering their antibacterial agents right where they need to be in order to treat bacterial vaginosis effectively. They come in both prescription and over-the-counter options and can also be used to prevent future episodes of bacterial vaginosis.


     It is important for women to understand the risk factors and symptoms associated with bacterial vaginosis so that they can get proper treatment if necessary or take measures to prevent its occurrence. A combination of regular daily yogurt intake, probiotic supplements, and vaginal suppositories are proven to be the most effective method for preventing and treating bacterial vaginosis. Consult with a doctor to see which option is best for you.

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