WHAT IS BV?
Bacterial vaginosis (BV for short) is the most common vaginal infection affecting adult women.1 In fact, it affects over 21 million women in the U.S. annually.2 BV is caused by an imbalance of "good" and "bad" bacteria in your vagina. Basically, it's when the bad bacteria outnumber the good.2 BV may increase your chance of contracting other infections or cause complications in pregnancy.3 Thankfully, BV can be treated with the right diagnosis.
HOW IS BV TREATED?
Treatments include up to 7-day courses of oral antibiotics, or up to 5-day courses of gels or creams you apply inside the vagina. Single dose options are available. Only prescription antibiotics have been proven to effectively treat BV.4 Learn more about how to treat BV.
WHAT IS pH?
The pH scale measures how acidic or alkaline something is (like acidic lemon juice vs. basic household bleach).5,6 0 to 7 are the acids, with 0 being the strongest. 7 to 14 are bases, with 14 being the strongest base.6 To learn more about why pH is important, check out "Why Is pH Important?"
IS THIS SOMETHING I CAN DIAGNOSE ON MY OWN?
Although you may know when something doesn't seem right with your vagina, healthcare professionals are trained to examine discharge and the appearance of vaginal area. They'll run tests to recommend appropriate treatment.7
You may be surprised to learn that women often attempt to self-treat what they may believe to be a yeast infection, which in fact is often BV.8 Trying to take matters into your own hands isn't a good idea. Let the professionals do what they're trained for so you know you're getting the right diagnosis.
HOW CAN I TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A YEAST INFECTION AND BV?
It's really hard to tell one infection from another, but check out this helpful chart and be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about your symptoms.
HOW CAN I TALK TO MY OB/GYN ABOUT SYMPTOMS?
Check out this handy Guide to help you talk to your healthcare provider.
WHO HAS TO KNOW THAT I HAVE BV?
There are many reasons BV can occur, and none of them mean you are "dirty" or that there's something wrong with you! Plus, BV can occur even if you've never had sex—which means it is NOT a sexually transmitted infection (STI). BV can occur whenever there is bacterial imbalance in the vagina.3
Thankfully, BV is treatable. If you have a female partner, it will be important that she visits her OB/GYN as well; BV can spread to female partners, because, you may have guessed it, they also have vaginas! But if you have a male sex partner he won't need to be treated, since BV is a vaginal infection.9
WHAT SOAPS ARE SAFE?
Talk to your healthcare professional about what soaps may be best for you. Typically, an unscented, gentle soap is a safe choice. Remember that it is best to focus on washing the outside of your vagina, as inside your body does the work for you.10
Read about the causes of imbalance in your vagina to better determine which products are safe to use.
WHAT CAN I DO AT HOME TO KEEP MY VAGINA HEALTHY?
There are many things you can do on a daily basis to keep her healthy. Using condoms can help maintain a healthy balance of bacteria.11 Always practice safe sex and refrain from douching.4 Check out ways to keep her happy and healthy here.
WHY ARE STDs NOW CALLED STIs?
Why the name change? Because the term "disease" suggests that there is an obvious medical problem. In fact, many sexually transmitted infections show no signs or symptoms. That's why HCPs are swapping disease (D) for infection (I). A sexually transmitted bacteria or virus creates infection, which may or may not result in outwardly obvious disease. Gonorrhea, HPV, chlamydia, and herpes are all STIs that can exist without apparent symptoms.10
WHERE CAN I GO TO FIND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION?
There's no such thing as too much support. If you'd like to do some more reading on how to support your health down there, check out these additional feminine health-friendly websites:
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services – Find a Community Health Center
Office of Population Affairs – Clinic Finder
We know it's not always easy talking to bae about things going on down there. So, we've put together a guide to help you through it.
If you have questions about how to bring up the topic of her—your vagina—with a healthcare provider, this discussion guide will help.
BV can be a real bummer, but it's not uncommon. These dos and don'ts can help make treating it easier.
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