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How is Bacterial Vaginosis Transmitted?

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Updated March 08, 2006

Question: How is Bacterial Vaginosis Transmitted?
Answer: Unfortunately, medical scientists remain unsure of exactly what causes bacterial vaginosis. This makes a positive determination of how bacterial vaginosis is transmitted impossible. However, we do know that bacterial vaginosis occurs when a disparity occurs between the large number of “good” bacteria and the normally low number of “bad” bacteria that inhabit the normal vaginal environment. Ultimately, this means that when the number of bad vaginal bacteria increases, bacterial vaginosis develops.

The scientific community still has a great deal to learn about what causes of bacterial vaginosis, the most common vaginal infection. Questions that remain unanswered include questions about the role “bad” bacteria play in the development bacterial vaginosis, as well as questions regarding how sexual activity contributes to the development of BV.

While it is true that we do not know the answer to what causes bacterial vaginosis, there are some precautionary steps that may help reduce your risk of developing a vaginal bacterial infection. These steps include:

  1. Limiting the number of sex partners you have. Having multiple sex partners or having sex with a new partner may lead to bacterial vaginosis.
  2. Leaving vaginal douches on the store shelves during shopping trips. Vaginal douching is capable of creating a breeding ground for vaginal infections by upsetting the natural balance of the vaginal environment.
  3. Making sure that you understand the potential risks of the intrauterine device for contraception. The fact is that having an IUD inserted into your uterus may be a key factor in the development of bacterial vaginosis.
However, it does appear that the link between sexual activity and bacterial vaginosis is accurate. This link is likely true because the overwhelming majority of women who’ve ever received a diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis are sexually active. It’s a rare occasion when women who’ve never been sexually active have bacterial vaginosis.

We do know that bacterial vaginosis is not caused by:


  • sitting on chairs or seats,
  • the mattresses or linens you sleep on,
  • swimming pools,
  • or just touching things.

Reference: CDC STD FAQs: Bacterial Vaginosis
http://www.cdc.gov/std/bv/STDFact-Bacterial-Vaginosis.htm
Accessed: 02/13/06
Published: 3/8/2006

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