Is BV a sign of cheating? (Myths and truths)
In this blog, we will answer the question, “Is BV a sign of cheating?”. We will talk about this myth (or truth) that your partner could be responsible for your bacterial vaginosis.
Is BV a sign of your partner cheating on you?
No, BV is not a sign of cheating. The occurrence of BV depends on a lot of factors and I’m sure you’re well aware that cheating has a lot of other signs too. Your partner being shady is more likely to be a sign of cheating, instead of BV.
Women who get diagnosed with BV after being sexual active with their partners often have this question in their minds, ‘Has he been with someone else?’. One thing to note here is that BV is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
What does research say?
BV is often mistaken for sexually transmitted infection, but it’s just a myth. It’s not just me saying it, it’s actually a fact stated by researchers.
According to an article published in 2020, BV is not considered an STI. The study states that an STI is an infection that is caused by bacteria which are not supposed to be a part of your normal vaginal microflora.
BV occurs when normal vaginal pH is disturbed. When the vaginal acidity decreases, it creates a hospitable environment for bad bacteria to grow. This results in BV.
BV is characterised with strong fishy odour, watery grey-white discharge, itching, burning sensation, discomfort and troubled urination.
Relationship between BV and sexual activity:
BV may not be transmitted to you by your partner, but it has a close relationship with sexual activity. Frequent intercourse, especially with multiple partners, leads to BV.
It does not indicate that your partner is cheating but it does indicate that multiple sexual episodes can disrupt the normal vaginal pH. When vaginal pH is disturbed, it makes vagina susceptible to infections by disturbing its defence mechanism.
Transmission of BV is more common in both partners with vaginas (homosexual), as the bacteria only infects women and can not be found in men, but it still doesn’t necessarily mean that your female partner is cheating on you.
If not your partner, then what is the actual cause of your BV?
BV occurs when vaginal pH balance is deranged. What actually happens is, the reduced acidity leads to the overgrowth of ‘bad’ bacteria. These bad bacteria include:
- Gardnerella vaginalis
- Anaerobic Prevotella, Porphyromonas and Bacteroides
- Mycoplasma hominis
- Ureaplasma urealyticum
As you know now what circumstances lead to the state of BV, let’s shed some light on factors which contribute to this condition. These include:
- Sexual activity
- Use of perfumed pads and tampons
- Poor vaginal hygiene
- Intrauterine devices (IUD)
- Hormonal changes
As discussed earlier, being sexually active, specially in case of unprotected sex, disturbance of vaginal pH is very common which leads to the overgrowth of disease causing bacteria.
The thought that your partner is cheating on you is vague in this scenario. The presence of BV does increase your chances of getting sexually transmitted infections by disturbing your vaginal defence barriers.
Sometimes, menstrual bleeding also disturbs your vaginal pH and throws off the balance of your vaginal microbiome. This leads to BV as well.
The use of douche is the most common cause of BV, especially in young women. Your vagina is self-cleaning, you don’t need to use douche, at all.
Douching actually does more harm than good, particularly in those cases where women are or have been infected with BV. It just makes things even more uncomfortable.
Use of perfumed female products
The urge of young women to make their vagina smell like flowers has led to the increased use of scented soaps, tampons and pads. It not only irritates the skin and causes itching, but also disturbs vaginal pH, hence giving rise to BV.
Poor vaginal hygiene
Insufficient vaginal cleanliness is another main reason for causing BV. Make sure you properly wash your lady parts with lukewarm water and always remember to pat it dry.
Do not leave it wet as moisture is the ideal environment for bad bacteria to thrive. Avoid using tight clothing as they trap moisture and keep your vagina damp. Wear breathable cotton panties. Yes, your vagina needs to breathe too.
Pregnant women undergo hormonal changes in their bodies which may lead to changes in vaginal microbiome. BV can create a lot of pregnancy related complications.
Bv in pregnant women is associated with premature delivery and babies with low body weight. It also leads to miscarriage during first trimester and creates complications.
Intrauterine devices (IUD)
The relationship between BV and intrauterine devices is not fully explained, but the studies have found increased incidence of BV in women with IUDs.
Different studies show a link between hormonal changes and the occurrence of BV. Most commonly, in post-menopausal women, the level of estrogen drops which can easily mess up the vaginal microflora.
Decreased estrogen levels not only cause different types of vaginitis, but it also irritates the skin outside vagina. Estrogen also plays an important role in keeping the vaginal membrane moist.
Its deficiency leads to immense dryness, which exacerbates itching and burning sensation in women already battling with BV.
Well, is there literally anything in our body which is not affected by the food we eat? Umm, I guess there isn’t, right? They say, ‘we are what we eat’. Well, they are right. Diet is not only important for us to look good, but to feel good as well.
Our food has a huge impact on our microbiome, including vagina’s. Make sure you add plenty of prebiotics and probiotics in your diet, along with nuts, yoghurt, asparagus, garlic, onions, leeks, banana, barley, oats, apples, cocoa, wheat bran, flaxseeds etc.
A 2014 study suggested that BV was found more common in African American women as compared to women who belong to European origin.
This difference is due to the diversity found in such women’s microflora. Your genetic material controls the amount and types of microorganisms naturally present in your body.
Can I get rid of it, for good?
Yes, you can. Following are the most common ways of eradicating BV:
- Use of antimicrobial therapy
Many antibiotics are available to fight BV. Your physician may prescribe the one which suits you best.
Probiotics are the good bacteria. They help to restore normal vaginal pH while maintaining vaginal microflora. The researchers vouched for natural sources of probiotics, rather than supplements.
Diet alone cannot heal BV, but the right diet can dramatically reduce the symptoms such as pain and smelly discharge, while the wrong diet can hinder your body’s toxin elimination and hormonal balance and seriously aggravate your condition.
Diet is only one of the factors involved. Bacterial vaginosis is a complex condition triggered by multiple underlying factors and you need to target them all to eradicate BV for good.
- Boric acid
Boric acid is used vaginally to get rid of BV. It was once a debate and many believed that boric acid is not safe to use but later it was proved to be safe for the treatment of bacterial vaginosis.
Prevention of BV
They say, ‘Prevention is better than cure’ for a reason, don’t you think? A few precautions and you can actually save yourself from getting infected in the first place, rather than looking for treatments later.
Preventive measures include
- Safe sexual practices
- Limit the number of sexual partners
- Always take care of your vaginal hygiene
- Avoid having unprotected sex. Use condoms, preferably latex.
- Wear breathable cotton underwear
- Take prebiotics and probiotics
Bacterial vaginosis is an infection caused by overgrowth of bad bacteria in vagina. Many people believe BV is a sign of your partner being unfaithful with you, but as we discussed in this blog, BV is not a sexually transmitted infection.
So no, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your partner is cheating on you. Even if your partner is faithful, there’s still a connection between BV and sexual intercourse.
Sexual penetration disrupts your normal vaginal pH and microbiome, as semen tries to neutralize vaginal pH to make the environment hospital for sperms.
This is a natural mechanism to facilitate fertilization. Other factors like douching, bad vaginal hygiene, menstruation and hormonal disturbance can also lead to BV.
FAQs: is bv a sign of cheating
Can cheating mess up pH balance?
Your vaginal pH gets messed up when you have more sexual partners. Semen has a pH of about 7 to 8 and vaginal is slightly acidic in normal conditions to keep harmful harmful bacteria in check.
In case of unprotected sex, when your partner ejaculates inside you, the pH of semen alters vaginal pH and neutralizes it to make the environment hospitable for sperms to survive.
Always opt for safe sexual practices and limit the number of sexual partners for your own safety and to keep your vagina infection free.
Why does my partner always give me BV?
You don’t necessarily get BV from your partner. BV is not a sexually transmitted infection, but yes, sexual intercourse can alter your vaginal pH and hence your microflora.
Check for other factors that might contribute to your BV. Monitor your diet, menstruation and make sure you don’t use any scented female hygiene product.
Can your partner give you BV?
BV is not a sexually transmitted infection, but having sex with a partner, or multiple partners, can increase the risk of getting BV.
Can a man’s sperm cause BV?
The process of getting BV from a man is not direct. Sperms don’t carry bacteria responsible for BV as those bacteria are specifically found in women. After sexual intercourse, sperms can change your vaginal pH which can result in BV.
Should I tell my boyfriend I have BV?
The simple answer: yes! You should tell him about your condition as it affects your sex life as well. The symptoms associated with BV make intimacy with your partner less desirable, because of its significant ‘fishy’ smell.
As far as your boyfriend’s health is concerned, he can not get infected (as he doesn’t really have a vagina). If you’re homosexual, your partner can get BV from you or she is probably infected as well. You should definitely discuss this so that both of you could get the appropriate treatment.
Should I be embarrassed about BV?
BV is an infection, just like every other infection and nothing to be embarrassed about. It is a common health related problem. Feel free to talk to your healthcare provider and discuss best treatment options, in order to say goodbye to BV, for good.
- Differences in vaginal microbiome in African American women versus women of European ancestry, 2014 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4178329/
- Norah Kairys; Manish Garg – Bacterial Vaginosis, 2021 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459216/
- Deborah B. Nelson, George Macones – Bacterial Vaginosis in Pregnancy: Current Findings and Future Directions https://doi.org/10.1093/epirev/mxf008
- Bacterial Vaginosis: An Overview for 2009 by Charles H Livengood, III, MD https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2672999