There are about 3 million new cases of bacterial vaginosis each year.
Bacterial vaginosis develops when there is an overgrowth of naturally occurring bacteria in the vagina. Though not considered a sexually transmitted infection, it can occasionally be passed through sex.
Many factors may induce an overgrowth of bacteria. These include the use of birth control pills, douching, feminine hygiene sprays, bubble baths, sensitivity to some detergents and fabric softeners, nylon underwear, poor hygiene, and vaginal intercourse immediately following anal sex.
There is no incubation period for bacterial vaginosis. The bacteria that causes it is always present in the vagina in small amounts.
Bacterial vaginosis may cause a gray, white, green or yellow discharge with a foul, fishy odor particularly after intercourse. It may also cause vaginal itching or burning, burning with urination, or pain with intercourse. Men may harbor the bacteria without having any symptoms.
Bacterial vaginosis is commonly treated with oral or vaginal Flagyl.
Having had bacterial vaginosis does not protect a person from getting it again. A woman may have it many times in her life. If a woman has repeat infections in a short period of time, she may have transmitted the bacteria to her sexual partner, who is passing it back to her. Treatment of the partner with the same antibiotics should resolve the problem.
Since the bacteria that causes bacterial vaginosis is naturally occurring, prevention is aimed at the factors that induce an overgrowth. Wear cotton, not nylon, underwear. Avoid douching, feminine hygiene sprays, and scented tampons and maxi-pads. Take bubble baths in moderation. Wipe from front to back, not back to front after going to the bathroom. Make sure the man’s penis is washed following anal sex and before vaginal intercourse.