Sexual Health Monday May 23, 2011

Bacterial vaginosis can boost your risk of developing STIs

Women diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis will be well versed on the symptoms (discharge becomes thin and watery, changes to a white or grey colour, or develops an unpleasant fishy smell) and on the treatments (antibiotics taken once or over the course of a week). What you might not know is that developing bacterial vaginosis, or BV for short, will significantly increase your risk of contracting an STI.

BV isn’t a sexually transmitted infection itself; it’s a disruption of the normal bacterial balance in your vagina. However, it’s more common in sexually active women.

The only way to know if you have developed bacterial vaginosis is to have a BV test. This will help you to establish if you have BV, or if you choose to take a full STI screen test it will determine if you have developed any kind of sexually transmitted infection. If you receive a positive test result, you will be advised as to how you can treat it successfully.

If you have developed bacterial vaginosis, it’s important you treat it as soon as possible. If you leave the infection untreated, it will increase your risk of contracting gonorrhoea, chlamydia, genital herpes, HIV and HPV.

The consequences of BV can be even more serious in pregnant women. It leads to a higher risk of late miscarriage, can break the amniotic sac too soon, cause premature birth or irritate the lining of the womb after birth.

It’s important to note that if you have developed bacterial vaginosis, there’s a strong chance you will develop it again soon. Around a quarter of women find that BV returns within a month. Around 80% of women will develop BV again at some point.

Having an STI test to hand could be helpful because if you develop BV symptoms, you’ll be able to take a test immediately and begin treatment as soon as possible.

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