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What is BV Infection and What is its Treatment?

What is BV Infection?

There are many women in their child bearing age that suffer from BV infection or the bacterial vaginosis infection. The real cause behind this kind of vaginal infection is having multiple sexual partners. Its eruption starts when the usual partner is replaced by a new one.

Typically BV infection is a bacterial infection not to be misunderstood by the yeast infection and Trichomonas vaginitis which are not caused by a bacterial infection. The risk heightens if the woman is a smoker or is a frequent user of hygiene-related products.

What is BV Infection

Surprisingly approximately fifty percent of the women suffering from the BV infection do not have any symptoms. The appearance or absence of the BV infection can sometimes not be associated with any reason at all.

The effect of medication is said to last for not more than four weeks before it resurfaces, though the medication does work on ninety percent of the women suffering from BV infection.

Premature delivery is one of the side effects of a pregnant woman contracted with the BV infection.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of BV Infection?

Before discussing how to diagnose the BV Infection it is important to understand the difference between signs and symptoms of BV infection. The symptoms are the experiences a patient is facing and the signs are something that the doctor or the people around tend to notice. About half of the women suffering from BV infection are symptomatic. The signs and symptoms of the BV infection are as follows:

Other less common signs and symptoms of BV infection are:

What are the Causes Behind the Development of BV Infection?

The vagina has got a naturally found bacterial flora. When there is an imbalance found in that naturally found bacteria, the woman is said to have been contracted the BV infection. There is no clear explanation of why it might happen. The vagina has naturally got a number of bacteria that are both good and bad in nature. When the good ones decrease and the bad ones increase, BV infection occurs, although no clear reason has been found what exactly the harmful bacteria do in the bacterial vaginosis or BV infection.

Ideally a woman’s vagina contains lactobacilli, which is a lactic acid bacterium. The acidic nature of this bacterium prevents bacterial infection from growing in the vagina. If the lactobacilli decrease in number there may be chances for other bacterial infections to grow in the vagina.The main causes in the change of bacterial flora are as follows:

  • Regular use of medicated solutions to wash the vagina.
  • Using antiseptic solutions to take bath.
  • Having many intercourse partners.
  • Change in the regular intercourse partners.
  • Artificially scented and bubble bathing on a frequent basis.
  • Smoking.
  • Use of deodorants to kill foul smell in vagina.
  • Use of detergent containing strong chemicals in washing innerwear.
  • Use of intrauterine devices.

Some common myths associated with BV Infection are that it may occur with the use of public toilets, swimming pools or bedding. Also women with no intercourse experience too may catch the BV infection.

What are the Factors that May Increase the Risk of Contracting BV Infection?

The risk factors for the development of BV Infection are as follows:

  • Many or new intercourse partners. The real cause of why the BV Infection develops on change in intercourse partners isn’t yet entirely clear but it does happen more frequently in such women.
  • The process of cleaning vagina with solutions that are medicated sometimes tend to disturb the natural bacterial presence thus encouraging growth of the BV infection. The anaerobic bacteria in such cases overgrow.
  • Lack of lactobacilli in the vagina to its optimum levels also increases the risk of developing BV infection in women.

Complications of BV Infection

The side effects of the bacterial vaginosis infection may increase complications sometimes. Those complications of BV Infection are listed below:

  • Premature birth is one of the prime complications concerned with BV infection in expecting mothers.
  • Infections transmitted through intercourse increase the tendencies and risk factors of developing BV Infection. Infections such chlamydia, herpes and gonorrhoea are some of the sexually transmitted infections. In case of one of the partners being HIV positive, because of the BV Infection it may get transmitted to the other intercourse partner.
  • Gynecologic surgeries such as hysterectomy or (Dilation and Curettage) D&C might increase the risk of development of BV infection as a side effect of post vaginal surgery infections.
  • Sometimes the BV infection causes PID also known as the Pelvic Inflammatory Disease that spreads to the uterus and the fallopian tube increase the risk of infertility.

Tests to Diagnose BV Infection

The BV infection can be diagnosed through the help of a few tests. They are listed below:

  • Doctors inquire about your medical history whether you have contracted vaginal or sexually transmitted infections in the past.
  • A pelvic examination is a sure shot way to ascertain whether one is suffering from BV infection. In this examination the doctor performs the two finger examination, where the doctor inserts two fingers in the vagina while simultaneously pressing the abdomen to observe any unusual symptoms or signs that could indicate the patient is suffering from BV infection.
  • Doctor may choose to pick a sample of secretions from the vagina to see if there is an overgrowth in the anaerobic bacteria. These secretions are then observed under the microscope to see if there are cells that indicate towards the BV infection.
  • The doctor could check the pH levels of vagina. A pH level of more than 4.5 could indicate towards the BV infection.

What is the Treatment for BV Infection?

There are medications available to treat the BV infection. They are as follows:

  • Metronidazole: This is available both as a pill and as a gel. The pill is to be swallowed with water and the gel has to be applied in the vagina. There is a tendency for the patient to develop abdominal pain, nausea or an upset stomach so it is best refrain from consuming alcohol at least up to one day after the course of medication gets over.
  • Clindamycin: This is available in the form of cream that is supposed to be applied in the vagina. One of the effects of this medicine is that it may weaken the latex condoms. So you may not want to use them up to three days of stopping the medication.
  • Tinidazole: This is an oral medication. Again this medication may make you experience nausea or upset stomach so it is in best interest of the patient to avoid consuming alcohol during and up to after one day of stopping the medication.

One thing to be noted is that it is very important for BV infection to be treated in pregnant women to avoid chances of premature delivery.

Usually there is no need for the male partner to be out under the medication but the female partners need to get themselves examined and if diagnosed with BV infections, must take medication. It should also be noticed that the medication must continue till the time period doctor has prescribed. Stopping early may increase the chances of BV infection’s recurrence.

How to Stop the Recurrence of BV Infection?

The chances of the BV infection resurfacing within three to twelve months of treatment are something very common. Although researchers have been working upon non recurrence of the BV infection upon stopping of medication, but in case it does reoccur, it is advised to visit your doctor again and start the medication all over again.

One of the ways to help you stop the development of BV infection over and over again is to maintain the balance of good and bad bacteria in the vagina. This could be done by consuming specific kinds of yogurt and foods that contain the lactobacilli bacteria.

How to Prevent BV Infection from Growing?

The ways to prevent the growth of BV infection are as follows:

  • It is best to minimize vaginal irritation to avoid contracting BV infection. Staying in hot tubs for long periods is not really a good idea. Rinsing private area with soap externally after shower and subsequently drying it is a good way to prevent the infection. Non deodorant and mild soaps must be used. It must also be noted that scented pads encourage the chances of BV infection to grow.
  • It is advised to clean the vagina with medicated solutions on a frequent basis as vagina has self-cleaning abilities. Repetitive use disturbs the balance of good and bad bacteria encouraging the growth of BV infection.
  • Restricting the number of intercourse partners lessens the chances of developing BV infection along with sexually transmitted infections.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Bacterial Vaginosis (BV): https://www.cdc.gov/std/bv/default.htm
  2. Mayo Clinic – Bacterial vaginosis: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bacterial-vaginosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20352279
  3. Women’s Health – Bacterial Vaginosis (BV): https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/bacterial-vaginosis
  4. National Health Service (NHS) – Bacterial vaginosis (BV): https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bacterial-vaginosis/

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 31, 2023

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