A. Bacterial vaginosis is an infection caused by an imbalance in your normal (healthy) vaginal bacteria. It’s the most common vaginal infection women ages 15-44 experience, so you’re not alone! BV symptoms range from nothing, to white/gray discharge, pain, itching or a strong fish-like odor.
If you think you have BV, we recommend going to a reproductive health doctor. They’ll test your vaginal fluid to determine if you have BV. Sometimes BV goes away without treatment, but often a doctor will prescribe an antibiotic to get rid of BV.
According to Scarleteen.com: BV can be caused by “vaginal or anal intercourse, manual sex, shared sex toys, vaginal intercourse wearing a condom that was also used for anal intercourse or through nonsexual activities such as wiping improperly after a bowel movement or the use of antibiotics.”
For prevention, you have a few options, but since we know it can be spread many ways, these aren’t guaranteed. You can avoid sex completely, or limit sexual partners to avoid introducing new bacteria into your vagina. If you like sex and want to have lots of it with different people, it’s important that your safer sex skills stay sharp. That means being prepared to use barriers when you’re with a new sexual partner. Barriers include condoms, dental dams and gloves. Dental dams are a piece of latex you put over the vaginal opening to reduce the spread of fluids from partner to partner. Gloves are great, because you can put your hands inside a partner’s body safely. Then when you want to put your hands inside yourself or another partner, just remove the glove and throw it away. Additionally, you might consider using only glycerin-free lube. Glycerin can upset the balance of vaginal bacteria. Self Serve only carries glycerin-free lube, which means we have many options for you to choose from.
Overall, BV is pretty common and easy to treat. The important thing is to stay in touch with your body, so you know when something isn’t quite right.