STD/STI: Bacterial Vaginosis

Vaginal cells with ‘bad’ bacteria on them. Called ‘Clue cells’.

Bacteria love warm, wet places. Which means at any given time there are millions of them in every vagina on the planet. The good news is that the vast majority of these bacteria are ‘good’ bacteria – that is they help us stay healthy and eat the bacteria and viruses that would make us sick. Sometimes, things go wrong, and we end up with fewer good bacteria. Then the ‘bad’ bacteria start having a field day, and things get icky. This is bacterial vaginosis.

Not all medical authorities consider bacterial vaginosis an STD/STI – but that is largely because we don’t actually know how people get it. What we do know is that it is more common among people with multiple sex partners, and right after the first encounter with a new sex partner. So if it isn’t directly transmitted by sex, sex is definitely involved.

Prevention: Don’t douche. Don’t have lots of sex partners. (That’s pretty much all medical science can tell us.)
Treatment: Usually clears up on its own in a few days, otherwise antibiotics.
Symptoms: Sometimes, there aren’t any. When there are they include itching, smelly discharge, burning urination.

So if the symptoms are mild, and it usually clears up on its own anyway, why do we care?

There is one major complication of BV that is actually a little scary: it puts you are greater risk for getting other STD/STIs, like HIV, Hep, Chlamydia and all the other stuff we actually worry about. It also increases the likelihood of your partners being infected with an STD/STI if you are infected.

If you have any symptoms of BV, and they don’t clear up on their own in a day or two, see your doctor about getting an antibiotic. To protect yourself against other STD/STIs, don’t have sex if you or your partner have any of the symptoms of BV.

Back to the Long List of STD/STIs

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