by Gina Colonette, sexual health blogger
As STD Awareness Month comes to a close, I have one more nasty STD to give you the dish on–and ladies, this one affects you! The vagina has good bacteria and bad bacteria. This one is the kind you don’t want: Bacterial vaginosis.
You may have heard before that the vagina is filled with bacteria of the good kind. The vagina is a clean and healthy self-regulating system. It’s actually cleaner than our mouths! But when bad bacteria gets in there, that’s a problem. Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is caused when the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina is changed because of an overgrowth of certain bacteria. The CDC says this is the most common infection in women of child-bearing age. That means us, college students.
Doctors are not sure what causes this imbalance of bacteria, but certain activites or behaviors can leave you at a greater risk for getting it. They include:
- Having a new sex partner or multiple sex partners.
But be aware you do not have to have sexual intercourse to be affected by BV.
BV has some nasty symptoms ,like abnormal vaginal discharge that comes with an unpleasant smell. Some women have said a strong fish-like smell occurred after sex. Another symptom of BV is the good ol’ burning during urination. But like many STDs there often are no symptoms.
Having BV can increase your susceptibility to HIV and other STDs, like the herpes simplex virus. To prevent BV and other STDs, let’s go back to the basics of prevention. Don’t engage in the activities stated above which can increase your risk of BV, practice abstinence, and take all medicine prescribed to you for BV even if your symptoms go away.
Let’s keep any fishy smell at the beach! Just because STD Awareness Month is coming to a close doesn’t mean you’re in the clear for unprotected sex and risky sexual behaviors. Get tested and protect yourself.