How can I prevent bacterial vaginosis?


BV is not well understood by scientists, and the best ways to prevent it are unknown. What is known is that BV is associated with having a new sex partner or having multiple sex partners. Follow these tips to lower your risk for getting BV:

  • Don’t have sex. The best way to prevent any STD is to practice abstinence, or not having vaginal, oral, or anal sex.

  • Be faithful. Have a sexual relationship with one partner is another way to reduce your chances of getting infected. Be faithful to each other, meaning that you only have sex with each other and no one else.

  • Use condoms. Protect yourself with a condom EVERY time you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Condoms should be used for any type of sex with every partner. For vaginal sex, use a latex male condom or a female polyurethane condom. For anal sex, use a latex male condom. For oral sex, use a dental dam. A dental dam is a rubbery material that can be placed over the anus or the vagina before sexual contact.

  • Don't douche. Douching removes some of the normal bacteria in the vagina that protects you from infection. This may increase your chances of getting BV. It may also increase the chances of BV coming back after treatment.

  • Talk with your sex partner(s) about STDs and using condoms. It’s up to you to make sure you are protected. Remember, it’s YOUR body! For more information, call the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at (800) 232-4636.

  • Talk frankly with your doctor or nurse and your sex partner(s) about any STDs you or your partner have or had. Talk about any discharge in the genital area. Try not to be embarrassed.

  • Have regular pelvic exams. Talk with your doctor about how often you need them. Many tests for STDs can be done during an exam.

  • If you are pregnant and have symptoms of BV or had a premature delivery or low birth weight baby in the past, get tested for BV. Get tested as soon as you think you may be pregnant.

  • Finish your medicine. If you have BV, finish all the medicine that you are given to treat it. Even if the symptoms go away, you still need to finish all of the medicine.

Information is provided by:  The National Women's Health Information Center which is Sponsored by the Office on Women's Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services