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Bacterial Vaginosis: How to Care for Your Daughter

Bacterial vaginosis (sometimes called BV) is an infection in the vagina. It happens when the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina changes. Bacterial vaginosis is treated with antibiotics.

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  • Make sure that your daughter uses all prescribed antibiotics (pills, vaginal creams, gels, or suppositories) exactly as the health care provider recommended.

  • A vaginal cream, gel, or suppository can make condoms and diaphragms not work as well. Be sure your daughter knows she should use another form of birth control until treatment is over. 

  • If your daughter is having sex with guys, her partner(s) don't need to be tested or treated. If she is having sex with girls, her partner(s) should talk to their health care provider about testing and treatment. 

Follow up:

  • Take your daughter for follow-up testing as recommended by the health care provider.

  • Be sure your daughter gets all doses of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine (shot). HPV is an STD (sexually transmitted disease) that can lead to some kinds of cancer and genital warts.

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Your daughter:

  • is not taking the antibiotics

  • has new or worsening symptoms

  • does not get better after a few days on the antibiotics

  • gets better but then symptoms come back (white or gray vaginal discharge, bad-smelling discharge)

  • has signs of an STD (belly pain, fever, abnormal discharge, pain when peeing, or genital warts or sores)

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  • Your daughter has severe belly pain.

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Is bacterial vaginosis an STD? It isn't considered an STD. But the chances of getting it seem to go up with the number of sexual partners a girl has. Rarely, even girls who have never had sex can get bacterial vaginosis. 

Does bacterial vaginosis lead to long-term problems? Not usually, but it does make a girl more likely to get an STD if she has sex with someone who has one. If a woman has untreated bacterial vaginosis during pregnancy, her baby has a higher risk of being born early or at a low birth weight.

How can my daughter avoid getting bacterial vaginosis again? She can lower her risk of getting bacterial vaginosis again by:

  • not douching

  • not having sex

  • using a condom every time if she does have sex (vaginal, oral, or anal). This will also help prevent her from getting an STD.

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