Bacterial Vaginosis: Signs, symptoms and treatment

Bacterial Vaginosis can cause irritation in the vagina
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Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is an infection that happens when bacteria in the vagina causes irritation. The vagina normally contains a lot of good bacteria and a small amount of bad bacteria. However, when a person develops BV, the bad bacteria takes over and causes the symptoms of BV.

People who have a new sex partner or many different sex partners seem to be more at risk of getting it, however it is also possible to get BV without having sex.

Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis

Many people do not have any symptoms, but if you do, they could be some of the following:

  • You might have a strong, unpleasant vaginal smell
  • Many people say that the smell is worst after sex
  • You might have an unusual vaginal discharge or liquid
  • It might burn when you pee
  • You might have itching around the vagina

Treatment for Bacterial Vaginosis

Visit your doctor to have the infection diagnosed. Your doctor will diagnose bacterial vaginosis by asking about your symptoms, doing a pelvic exam and taking a sample of the vaginal discharge to be tested.

Try not to feel nervous about talking to your doctor, as they will have treated this many times before.

If you have BV they will probably prescribe a cream or antibiotics to clear the problem. You must take the entire course of medicine, even if your symptoms go away.

What happens BV goes untreated?

  • Untreated BV seems to increase your risk of getting HIV if you are exposed to someone who has it. It also seems to increase your risk of giving HIV to someone else.
  • It can cause complications during pregnancy and labour, such as: miscarriage, premature delivery, low birth weight for babies and pelvic inflammatory disease.
  • It can increase your risk of getting other STIs, such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea and herpes.
  • It can increase your chances of getting an infection after any gynaecological operation.

How to prevent Bacterial Vaginosis

  • Using condoms is the best way to protect against BV through sexual intercourse
  • Some doctors also suggest avoiding scented soaps/bubble baths or vaginal cleansing products
  • People who smoke and use an IUD also seem to be more at risk.

Remember: The age of sexual consent in Ireland is 17. If you're over 16, you can consent to medical treatment including any treatment or tests needed.

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