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Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
BV is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It is more common amongst people who are having sex, but people who are not sexually active can also have BV. In women who have sex with women*, if one partner has BV then there is a high chance her partner will also have BV. When a person has BV, it may be easier for her to get another STI or HIV.
*Here women refers to individuals with vaginas or internal genitals, including trans men and non-binary individuals.
It is not clear what causes the bacteria in the vagina to get out of balance, but there are some things make it more likely to happen. The chances of having BV are higher if you:
- Have more than one sex partner or a new sex partner (sex with different partners can change the normal balance in the vagina)
- Are a woman having sex with women
- Have an IUD
Many people who have BV do not notice any symptoms and do not need treatment. Common symptoms include more discharge and a change in vaginal fluid odor.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) usually does not cause other health problems. Sometimes BV may spread to the uterus or fallopian tubes and cause more serious problems.
If you have BV when you are pregnant, you may have a higher chance of miscarriage, early delivery or a pelvic infection after pregnancy. There is a higher chance of getting pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) following an IUD insertion or an abortion, if the person has PID.
Tests and Diagnosis
Testing and diagnosis involves a genital exam and a swab from the vagina. Get tested for BV if you:
- have symptoms
- are going to have an IUD, hysterectomy or surgical abortion
- are pregnant
BV is not usually treated if a person does not notice any symptoms. If there are symptoms, BV is treated with antibiotic medications and creams.
Male partners are not treated for BV. Other partners who are noticing symptoms may want to get tested and treated as needed.
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