Is BV a Sexually Transmitted Disease?
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common vaginal infection that affects women of all ages. It is caused by an imbalance of bacteria in the vagina where the ‘bad’ bacteria outnumber the ‘good’ bacteria. The condition is not typically considered a sexually transmitted disease (STD) because it can develop in women who are not sexually active.
Causes of BV
BV is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria that live naturally in the vagina. These bacteria can become imbalanced leading to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria like Gardnerella vaginalis. There are several factors that can contribute to this imbalance including:
- Use of antibiotics
- Hormonal changes (such as during pregnancy)
- Sexual activity with new or multiple partners
Is BV Contagious?
BV is not considered a contagious condition meaning it cannot be transmitted through casual contact or sharing of items like towels or clothing. However sexual activity can influence the balance of bacteria in the vagina increase the risk of developing BV.
Risk Factors for BV
Although BV can affect any woman there are certain risk factors that can increase the likelihood of developing the condition. These include:
- Being sexually active
- Having a new sexual partner or multiple partners
- Using certain types of birth control
- Having an intrauterine device (IUD)
- Using antibiotics
- Being pregnant
While BV cannot always be prevented there are steps that women can take to lower their risk of developing the condition. These include:
- Avoiding douching
- Using condoms during sexual activity
- Limiting the number of sexual partners
- Using unscented pads tampons
- Avoiding the use of irritating products like soaps bubble baths
If BV does develop it can typically be treated with antibiotics. These can be taken orally or applied as a cream or gel to the vagina. In some cases symptoms may go away on their own without treatment but it is important for women to seek medical attention if they experience symptoms like itching burning or unusual discharge.
While BV is not considered a sexually transmitted disease sexual activity can increase the risk of developing the condition. Women who experience symptoms of BV should seek medical attention for diagnosis treatment. Taking steps to prevent BV can also help to lower the risk of developing the condition in the first place.
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