BV symptoms, causes and treatments

November 12, 2012

BV symptoms, causes and treatments

Bacterial vaginosis, known as BV for short is caused by too much bacteria growing in the vagina leading to infection, inflammation and abnormal secretion. It is a common condition of which 1 in 3 women in America suffer from. The most common of the BV symptoms is grey, white or yellow coloured discharge often with a musty or fishy odour.

BV Symptoms

Further BV symptoms include itching, irritation, vaginal swelling, stomach pains and a burning feeling during urination. Symptoms vary from case to case and also differ in intensity. In fact in up to half of all cases, sufferers are not aware of the presence of any symptoms at all. The most common BV symptom of vaginal discharge is often most noticeable after sexual intercourse and the fishy odour is often the distinguishing sign of BV. Burning sensations during urination along with itching in the vaginal area are also both common BV symptoms.

BV Causes

An imbalance of bacteria in the vagina is the primary cause of bacterial vaginosis, although there are many factors that can lead to this imbalance it is often hard to say what it is in each individual case. There is always a presence of both good and bad bacteria but when the bad bacteria are in higher numbers than good, problems can arise. During BV, the bad bacteria multiply to much larger numbers than normal due to a reduction in the good bacteria known as lactobacilli. These good bacteria are responsible for secreting lactic acid, which prevents the overgrowth of other bacterium. Some of the possible reasons for this reaction include:

  • Smoking

Results of studies suggest that smokers are twice as likely to develop BV than non-smokers.

  • Multiple or new sex partners

Although BV is not directly contagious, the transmission of bacteria amongst sexual partners is thought to disrupt the balance of bacteria.

  • Hygiene

Improper hygiene such as the use of vaginal douches and scented soaps or vaginal deodorants can also promote the growth of bad bacteria disrupting the natural and healthy balance.

  • Lack of iron or vitamin D

Individuals suffering from a vitamin D deficiency, iron deficiency or anaemia are thought to be at a higher risk of developing BV symptoms.

BV Treatment

BV symptoms are easy to treat but should be done so as soon as symptoms occur in order to prevent any complications. If the bacteria continues to multiply it can lead to inflammation of the genital tract and fallopian tubes. It can also have serious implications during pregnancy for the both the mother and the baby. If you notice that you have any of the BV symptoms mentioned above, have yourself checked out by a health professional as soon as possible. There are also testing kits that you can do from home to confirm whether or not you are suffering from BV. These are not as accurate as a doctor’s diagnosis, but it may speed up the process if you pass the results of the test on to your doctor. It will also help if you can provide your doctor with details of your BV symptoms as well as how long you have been experiencing them. The most common treatment of BV symptoms is antibiotics including clindamycin and metronidazole, which can be taken either orally or vaginally. Follow the instructions provided by your doctor as the method of taking the medication often varies according to the severity of your BV symptoms. There are also some natural home remedies, which are effective for some people. One example is yoghurt, either eaten or applied directly to the area using a tampon. Another remedy is apple vinegar added to bath water, which you then soak in for around 20 minutes.


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