Bacterial vaginosis symptoms and treatment

Mar 11, 2018 | Alexa Natanson Collaborator

BV and UTIs

Identify and treat bacterial vaginosis

BV versus yeast infections

BV is a vaginal bacterial infection, commonly called BV. In a healthy vagina different types of “good” and “bad” bacteria naturally, coexist. Women run into trouble when there is an imbalance of “good” and “bad” bacteria. BV is caused when there are more “bad” bacteria than good. Unfortunately, an imbalance of bacteria can happen quite easily, with BV being the most common vaginal infection for women between the ages of 14 and 2. But don’t let BV get you down, this article will be everything you need to know about BV, to keep your vagina happy healthy and in balance.   

BV and yeast infections are both a type of vaginitis, but they're caused by different things. BV is a bacterial infection, and yeast infection is a fungal infection, caused by an overgrowth of yeast (AKA fungus). 

BV versus UTI

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are caused by bacteria enter and infect your urinary tract. Unlike BV, UTIs take place in your urinary tract (not your vagina) and are most often caused by E. coli. Although the infections are separate, there is evidence that indicates you're more likely to get repeat UTIs if you have BV, because the bacterial growth that comes with BV can trigger recurrent UTIs.

What causes BV?

A lot of things might cause BV. Anything that changes the pH of your vagina can affect bacteria levels and lead to BV. For example sex with a new partner, douching, or vaginal deodorants are all possible causes of BV.

Symptoms of BV

BV is not an SDI, UTI, or yeast infection. But with so many complications that can happen down there, how are you supposed to know if you have BV? While the only way to be 100% sure is to visit a doctor, the main symptom of BV is thin white or grey vaginal discharge with a strong fishy odor.

You may also experience itching or burning when you urinate, but itching and burning are symptoms more commonly associated with yeast infections or UTIs. It can be a bit confusing to tell one infection from another, so it is important to pay close attention to your symptoms. Are you producing discharge? What color is it? Does it have an odor? Are you experiencing any pain? UTIs don’t typically produce discharge and while yeast infections do the discharge is usually thicker, more cottage cheese-like with no odor.  

Over-the-counter treatment for BV

The number one treatment for BV is antibiotics, but most of the time symptoms of BV are mild, and many people prefer to explore over-the-counter treatments and home remedies.

In some cases, however, it is important to know when you should seek a doctor. If you are pregnant, if there is blood in your discharge, fever, intense pain or if there is no improvement in symptoms after a week of home treatment.

Home Remedies for BV

Try probiotics. Probiotics encourage the body to grow the “good” bacteria that help fight off the “bad” bacteria. Eating foods full of probiotics like yogurt and/or taking a probiotic supplement might help your BV.

Rinse with apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar may help balance the pH of your vagina. Mix 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of water and rinse the vulva (external part of female genitals) 2 times a day.

Eat more garlic. Garlic is known to be an antibacterial. Incorporating it into your diet or taking a garlic supplement may help your BV.

Can you prevent BV? 

Hygiene and BV. BV is not actually caused by poor hygiene. It is caused by an imbalance of bacteria. The vagina is a self-cleaning organ, douching and using products like scented soaps or tampons can actually increase your risk of BV.

To keep yourself clean and reduce your risk of BV only wash inside of your vagina with water. Unscented soaps are okay to use on the vulva (outside). Keep your vaginal area dry. That means changing out of swimwear/gym clothes asap and wash your hands before touching yourself, especially when inserting items like tampons.

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