Written by Hannah Kingstonon August 18th, 2021
Bacterial vaginosis, also known as BV may go away on its own without treatment, however that doesn’t mean that it should be ignored.
Untreated bacterial vaginosis may lead to serious health outcomes such as an increased chance of contracting other sexually transmitted infections, a higher risk of contracting HIV and premature birth and low birth weight if you have untreated BV during pregnancy and at the time of childbirth.
Bacterial vaginosis home treatment
Bacterial vaginosis is treated using antibiotics such as metronidazole or clindamycin. You should not try to treat bacterial vaginosis using methods such as vaginal douching (washing the vagina) or usually unmedicated home care routes.
The most effective treatment for bacterial vaginosis is anti-biotics.
Bacterial vaginosis is diagnosed when doctors speak with their patient about the symptoms, perform a pelvic examination, and take a sample of vaginal discharge. Vaginal discharge is tested to identify the level of lactobacillus in the discharge.
Anti-biotics usually come in tablet form, capsules or a cream that you put directly onto the vagina. If you are pregnant, you will need to take the anti-biotics in pill form.
Usually, bacterial vaginosis will clear 2-3 days after you start treatment but the course of anti-biotics will be 7 days to ensure that the infection has cleared. If you have been prescribed anti-biotics, ensure that you finish the course of tablets.
You symptoms subsiding are a sign that the medication is working, but it does not mean that the infection has fully cleared.
Generally speaking, the anti-biotics will not produce any side effects. It is important to note that taking any form of anti-biotic puts you at a greater risk of developing a yeast infection as the balance between bacteria and fungi may become imbalanced.
Can bacterial vaginosis (BV) clear on its own?
Bacterial vaginosis can clear up on its own, however if it goes untreated, it can lead to health complications such as:
- A higher risk of contracting an STD
- A higher risk contracting and transmitting HIV
- Pregnancy complications such as premature birth and low birth weight
If you are experiencing any vaginal symptoms, you should get an STD test as soon as possible to rule out any further health complications.
What is the quickest way to treat bacterial vaginosis (BV)?
Anti-biotics are the quickest way to treat bacterial vaginosis (BV).
They generally take 2-3 days to take an effect and the infection should be cleared within a week.
How long does bacterial vaginosis last?
With treatment, bacterial vaginosis generally lasts for one week. Those who have experienced bacterial vaginosis more than once are more likely to experience it again 6-12 months after their initial infection.
It’s common for BV to come back. Some people are more prone to getting BV, which is likely related to their body chemistry and vaginal environment. BV may clear up and come back, or it could be that it never completely cleared in the first place.
What happens if bacterial vaginosis goes untreated?
Bacterial vaginosis usually does not cause other health problems. But in some cases it can lead to serious problems. Alberta summarizes:
- If you have it when you are pregnant, it increases the risk of miscarriage, early (preterm) delivery, and uterine infection after pregnancy.
- If you have it when you have a pelvic procedure such as a caesarean section, an abortion, or a hysterectomy, you are more likely to get a pelvic infection.
- If you have it and you are exposed to a sexually transmitted infection (including HIV), you are more likely to catch the infection.