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  • Vaginitis is a classification of vaginal infections that produce similar symptoms such as the presence of a vaginal discharge, itching in the crotch and a burning feeling during urination
  • Women who continue sexual activity during a period of bacterial vaginosis can increase their risk of developing HIV infection and other STDs like herpes, gonorrhea and chlamydia
 

The Telltale Symptoms and Signs of Bacterial Vaginosis

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Vaginitis is a classification of vaginal infections that produce similar symptoms such as the presence of a vaginal discharge, itching in the crotch and a burning feeling during urination. One of the most common forms of vaginitis is bacterial vaginosis, occurring in over 21.2 million women annually in the U.S. alone.1

Bacterial Vaginosis Is Caused by Bacterial Imbalance in the Vagina

The female vagina contains different strains of bacteria that live together in a harmonious but delicate balance. On one side, you have probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that keep your vaginal tract healthy. And on the other side, you have pathogenic bacteria, which can cause an infection.

Should the pathogenic bacteria overpower the probiotics, bacterial vaginosis occurs. The top symptom of this condition is the presence of a vaginal discharge that has a white-grey color and a fishy smell. The vagina may also become itchy and produce a burning feeling when urinating.2

Who Is at Risk for Bacterial Vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis is strictly a vaginal infection; therefore, men cannot get this condition.3 However, your sexual activity with men plays a role in getting it. It's widely accepted that having multiple male partners increases your risk of bacterial vaginosis.4

Pregnancy is known to increase your risk of getting bacterial vaginosis. In fact, bacterial vaginosis is one of the most common vaginal diseases a pregnant woman may get.5 This is attributed to the hormonal changes you may experience throughout your pregnancy.6

If you're douching, you may be disrupting the balance of bacteria inside your vagina, which can allow bad bacteria to cause an infection. The vagina is a self-cleaning organ, so it's recommended that you stop douching immediately.7

Bacterial Vaginosis Is Not Necessarily a Sexually Transmitted Disease

While doctors are unsure exactly how multiple sex partners increase the risk of bacterial vaginosis, the correlation between the two is clear. However, bacterial vaginosis isn't considered to be a strictly sexually transmitted disease (STD), because women who are not sexually active may also get it.8

Untreated Bacterial Vaginosis May Lead to Complications

Despite the prevalence of bacterial vaginosis among women, many infections do not exhibit any symptoms at all,9 and one-third of all recorded cases usually clear up without any treatment.10 But don't take this as a sign that you should leave your bacterial vaginosis alone and hope for the best, because several complications may arise if it is untreated, including:

Premature Birth

If you're currently pregnant and begin to show symptoms of bacterial vaginosis, visit your doctor immediately for treatment. The disease can cause premature birth along with a low birth weight (less than 5.5 pounds) for the child.11

Higher Risk of Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Women who continue sexual activity during a period of bacterial vaginosis can increase their risk of developing HIV infection and other STDs like herpes, gonorrhea and chlamydia.12

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Bacterial vaginosis can cause PID, a bacterial inflammation in your uterus and fallopian tubes. PID can also increase your chances of becoming infertile.13

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Introduction: Bacterial Vaginosis

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Bacterial Vaginosis vs Yeast Infection

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