Bacterial Vaginosis is the most common vaginal infection for women in their reproductive years. Women who are 15-44 years old are the most prone to get BV.
Can A Man Give BV To A Woman?
Is BV a sexually transmitted disease?
In this article, we will discuss if BV can be transmitted from a man to women who he has sexual relations with.
There are studies done that women who have unprotected sex with multiple partners are considered the most prone to getting Bacterial Vaginosis. Women who have unprotected sex with a new partner are also prone to get BV. Although it has been concluded before that BV is not a sexually transmitted disease, it remains to be a topic that can be discussed as a lot of women who previously do not have any BV symptoms later exhibit the symptoms after having sexual intercourse with a man.
Studies have also mentioned that men usually carry bacteria in their penis that can cause BV but they do not have symptoms of BV and they are not required to get treatment for it.
Bacterial Vaginosis usually occurs when there is a disruption in the normal vaginal flora. The vaginal ecosystem commonly has both good and bad bacteria present in it. The “good bacteria” also known as Lactobacilli are the ones in charge of keeping peace in the vaginal ecosystem. If there is an incident that can affect the population of the good bacteria and cause its significant decrease in number, the bad bacteria or anaerobes can increase and multiply and when this happens, Bacterial Vaginosis can occur.
When a woman has BV the vaginal pH increases because the Lactobacilli are the bacteria that help regulate the vaginal pH, it is normally slightly acidic which helps control the bad bacteria from multiplying. When BV is present, the vaginal pH becomes higher than pH 4.5 making the vagina alkaline. An alkaline environment is a conducive place for bad bacteria to proliferate.
Is Bacterial Vaginosis a sexually transmitted disease?
No, it is not but it can develop in women who are sexually active, have multiple sex partners and those who practice unprotected sex.
Can Men have BV as well?
No men are not prone to getting bacterial vaginosis as their penis does not have the delicate balance of bacteria like a vagina has. But there is a high possibility of them carrying bacteria in their penis and this could cause bacterial vaginosis to their female partners.
What are the preventive measures that can be done to prevent BV transmission from a man to a woman?
- Always use a condom. Having protected sexual intercourse will help lessen the possibility of getting BV.
- Limit sexual partners. Women who have multiple sex partners have a higher risk of getting BV.
- Do not practice anal-to-vagina sexual intercourse; it can cause bacteria from the anus to infect the vagina even when using a condom
- Uncircumcised men have a higher risk of carrying bacteria that can cause BV.
A man can have BV like symptoms as well; here are some of the conditions with symptoms that are the same as BV:
Thrush – When a man has thrush, the fungus will multiply and grow in the penis. This is called a yeast infection. It exhibits symptoms like itching and having a yellow like substance.
Sexually transmitted infection – Gonorrhoea, Chlamydia. STIs are transmitted via sexual intercourse.
Urinary tract infection – There is an overgrowth of bacteria in the bladder or uterus and the symptoms are inflammation, pain during urinating and blood in the urine.
Balanitis – This condition occurs when the tip of the penis is irritated and inflamed. When a man has balanitis, he will not be able to pull back his foreskin because it will be swollen.
What causes it?
- When cleaning the penis too much or not enough
- Scented products to clean the penis
What is Non-gonococcal urethritis?
This is an infection in the urethra caused by different types of bacteria; one of them is Mycoplasm genitalium. It is more common among males. According to a study done, it mentions that men who had a history of nongonococcal urethritis can carry the bacteria that can cause BV to women.
What are the symptoms of NGU?
- Presence of discharge in the penis
- Pain when urinating and burning sensation
- Stain in the underwear
- Itching, irritation, and tenderness of the penis
Affected men can transfer the bacteria to their spouse or girlfriend and the women could catch BV after unprotected sex or catch something else. Either way it’s not GOOD!
How to prevent a man from spreading BV to women?
- Always use a condom during sexual intercourse. A Dental dam must be used during oral sex to prevent bacteria from getting into the mouth. Protection while having sexual intercourse can prevent the transmission or transfer of bacteria.
- Limit your sexual partners – Multiple sex partners increases the risk of getting BV.
- Always clean the penis and genital area to prevent bacteria from multiplying. Moisture attracts bacteria and allows it to proliferate. Clean the skin beneath the foreskin as this can harbour bacteria which could be the cause of transmitting BV to women.
- Use clean cotton underwear – The underwear must be breathable for air to move freely in the genital area, avoid staying in wet suits or when exercising when there is too much sweat.
What are the symptoms of BV?
- Thin, white or greyish discharge from the vagina
- Fish-like unpleasant odour, more prominent after sexual intercourse
- Itchy and painful vagina
- Burning sensation during urination
- Blood in the vagina
If a woman has BV symptoms, she can talk to her medical care provider to check for BV. The doctor can do a vaginal exam. He or she will examine the inside of the vagina and check the vaginal discharge using a cotton swab. The pH of the vagina will be measured by using a treated paper. If the result is higher than pH 4.5, the woman has an alkaline vagina which is prone to BV.
BV is sometimes detected when a woman goes to her medical care provider to undergo a cervical screening test. If the woman also exhibits symptoms, she will be subjected to treatment. Routine blood tests do not detect infections like bacterial vaginosis. That’s why it is important for a woman to inform her doctor that she has symptoms of BV.
What is the treatment for BV?
Bacterial Vaginosis sometimes does not need treatment because the immune system and the vaginal pH are able to fight off the bacteria, as long as there are no symptoms present. When a woman has symptoms of BV, she must be properly diagnosed and treated accordingly. Even with treatment, there is a possibility that BV may return after the treatment.
We have also discussed that Male sex partners can (rare occasion) give BV to their women partners, this is why it is best to practice safe sex and always wear a condom.
Treatment can include the following:
Treatment for bacterial vaginosis is simple and involves taking antibiotic tablets. There are several different antibiotics that can be used. These are taken either as a single dose or a longer course (up to one week).
- Metronidazole – This medication can be taken via the mouth. It is also available as a vaginal gel that can be inserted directly into the vagina. When taking this medication, avoid alcohol consumption as it can cause abdominal pain and nausea.
- Clindamycin – This medication is available as a vaginal cream that can be applied to the vagina. A piece of important advice: Clindamycin can weaken latex condoms, avoid having sex while undergoing this treatment for 3 days after using it.
- Tinidazole – This medication is taken via the mouth. It can cause stomach pain and nausea. Avoid consumption of alcohol while taking this medicine.
You may be given a cream or gel instead. You’ll need to use this in the vagina for 5–7 days. The doctor or nurse will advise you on how to use the treatment. If you’re given the antibiotic metronidazole, either as tablets or a vaginal gel, you’ll be advised not to drink alcohol during the treatment and for 48 hours afterwards. This is because it reacts with alcohol and can make you feel very unwell.
Some creams can weaken latex condoms, diaphragms and caps. Polyurethane (soft plastic) types can be safely used. Ask the doctor or nurse for advice. Tell the doctor, nurse or pharmacist if you’re pregnant or think you might be, and if you’re breastfeeding. This can affect the type of treatment you’re given.
Bacterial Vaginosis is an infection that is usually treated with certain antibiotics, when prescribed with medication, It is imperative you complete the dosage, even when the symptoms have already subsided. It is important to complete the antibiotic dosage to lessen the possibility of the infection to recur.
Men cannot have BV but they can carry bacteria that cause BV. When a man exhibits symptoms that are similar to BV, he might have another condition which can be one of the sexually transmitted infections. A man must go to the doctor and make an appointment to check for the symptoms and be treated for his condition to avoid it spreading to others, especially women who he has sexual relations with.
When a man and a woman have sexual intercourse, this can affect the vaginal ecosystem by introducing bacteria into the vagina. Plus the semen has an alkaline pH and it can alter the pH of the vagina and could affect the good bacteria that makes the vagina clean and slightly acidic.
The more sexual partners a woman has, the more bacteria and microbes can invade your vaginal ecosystem, and therefore, it increases the risk of BV from occurring.
In some circumstances women can also develop mixed infection that can be caused by having sex. This occurs when the vagina’s ecosystem is inoculated with anaerobic bacteria and aerobic bacteria. Staphylococcus aureus and E.coli are examples of aerobic bacteria that can cause infection as well.
We also recommend you try out different home remedies to help relieve the symptoms of BV.