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How Do You Get Bacterial Vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis occurs when the level of lactobacillus bacteria in your vagina drops too low. You need this healthy bacteria to keep other more harmful forms of bacteria in check.

What Causes Bacterial Vaginosis?

There are many things that can change the pH balance in your vagina. Bacterial vaginosis typically occurs with an overgrowth of Gardnerella vaginalis bacteria, which start to crowd out the lactobacillus bacteria. Some things that can cause the chemistry of the vagina to change include:

  • Using scented soaps, bubble baths, and other hygiene products
  • Having sex, particularly with a new partner
  • Douching
  • Using vaginal deodorants

Some people are more likely to get bacterial vaginosis than others. You’re at greater risk if you are genetically prone to have less lactobacilli bacteria or if you’re a smoker.

How Do I Know if I Have Bacterial Vaginosis?

Some women with bacterial vaginosis don’t experience symptoms. For those who do experience symptoms, the most common ones  include:

  • A burning sensation when you urinate
  • Thin gray, white, or green vaginal discharge
  • A fishy smell that’s more noticeable after sex

What Should I Do About Bacterial Vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis will sometimes clear on its own, but if you experience persistent symptoms you should see your medical provider for a diagnosis. This infection can cause complications if you’re pregnant, so it’s important to seek treatment if you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant. Bacterial vaginosis is easily treated with antibiotics.

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