Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a condition that can cause discomfort and pain in the vagina. It occurs when the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina is disrupted. Normally, a balanced level of bacteria helps maintain vaginal health. However, an overgrowth of certain bacteria can lead to BV. One common symptom of BV is a “fishy” odor in vaginal discharge. Some individuals may also experience vaginal irritation, while others may not have any symptoms at all.
BV can occur at any age but is most commonly seen during the reproductive years. Additionally, BV is more prevalent among sexually active individuals, although the reasons for this association are not fully understood. Engaging in unprotected sex and douching are known to increase the risk of developing BV.
Bacterial vaginosis is frequently asymptomatic in many individuals. However, when symptoms do manifest, common indicators of bacterial vaginosis include:
If you’re experiencing an unusual odor and discomfort in your vaginal discharge, it’s important to schedule an appointment with a healthcare professional. They can assess your symptoms and determine the underlying cause. This is especially crucial if you’ve had vaginal infections in the past but notice a difference in your current discharge. Additionally, if you have recently engaged in sexual activity with a new partner or multiple partners, it’s essential to seek medical attention as symptoms of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can sometimes overlap with those of bacterial vaginosis. Lastly, if you believed you had a yeast infection and attempted self-treatment but are still experiencing symptoms, consulting a healthcare provider is advisable to ensure proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) can be asymptomatic in up to 84% of individuals, but if symptoms do occur, they may include off-white, gray or greenish-colored vaginal discharge, a fishy odor from the discharge, particularly after sexual intercourse, vaginal itching or irritation, and a burning sensation during urination. It’s crucial to seek medical attention to distinguish BV from other vaginal infections, as the symptoms can resemble those of other conditions.
Bacterial vaginosis typically affects individuals who are sexually active, and it is rare for it to occur in individuals who have never engaged in sexual activity. Some individuals may naturally produce an excess amount of the bacteria associated with BV.
Factors that can increase the risk of developing bacterial vaginosis include:
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