a pregnant woman in a blue bikini holding her stomach against a blue background

Bacterial Vaginosis
When Pregnant

By Audrey Cabanel
October 30, 2023

Bacterial vaginosis is the most common cause of vaginal symptoms in the US and The prevalence is estimated to be 21.2 million (29.2%) among women ages 14–49, based on a nationally representative sample of women who participated in NHANES 2001–2004. What about those who are pregnant? Yup, you can get BV while pregnant and you can treat it! Around 25% of pregnant women will have BV while pregnant. The constant hormone fluctuations during pregnancy mean that you are at an increased risk of getting BV. As one of the most common vaginal infections, one is always at risk of getting BV, especially if you have multiple sex partners or are sexually active.

But fear not! There are many ways to treat it that are safe, effective, and easy. It’s very important to see a doctor in person to treat bacterial vaginosis when pregnant to avoid more serious pregnancy complications.

Can Bacterial Infection Affect Your Baby During Pregnancy?

It’s important to know about BV and pregnancy because untreated BV can have a negative impact on a developing baby. During pregnancy, BV increases the following risks:

  • Miscarriage
  • Preterm labor
  • Preterm delivery
  • Postpartum complications such as endometritis and wound infections

This is because the bacteria associated with BV can travel into the amniotic fluid and placenta, causing preterm delivery. Taking a BV antibiotic highly reduces the risk of preterm delivery, among other pregnancy complications. If BV goes untreated when pregnant, it can cause more long-term issues, like getting or transmitting sexually transmitted infections (HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea). Getting STIs/STDs and leaving them untreated can cause Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, a condition in the uterus that can increase the risk of infertility post-pregnancy. Routine BV testing in males is not recommended at this time, however, if patients continue to have recurring infections can speak to their provider about partner testing or long-term maintenance treatment methods.

More than half of people with bacterial vaginosis don't know they have it. It’s extremely common for people to be asymptomatic, or if symptoms are present, they are usually mild. If you do experience symptoms, they may include a strong smell, particularly after sex, a burning sensation when urinating, itching around the outside of the vagina, a thin white, gray, green, or yellow vaginal discharge, or pain, itching, or burning in the vagina.

You may notice that many of these symptoms are also signs of a sexually transmitted infection, so if you aren’t sure, be sure to get checked out by your doctor!

How Do You Treat BV While Pregnant?

Say you start to notice a fishy smell down there after sex, burning when peeing, itching, or a white-gray vaginal discharge—chances are you have BV. Good thing you can treat it as quickly as you can get it! Most of the treatments for a pregnant person with BV are the same as for non-pregnant people.

Antibiotics like Metronidazole (tablets or gel) or Clindamycin (cream) are safe and effective to treat BV quickly and effectively. Pregnant patients are not currently eligible for Wisp—if you’re pregnant, it’s important to be seen in person by your doctor to ensure you’re getting the correct care to avoid complications for yourself and your baby. Experiencing BV postpartum? Stop by Wisp anytime for convenient BV care!

With antibiotics, it is especially important to complete the full cycle of treatment even if symptoms improve earlier than the instructed time, as this will prevent the infection from returning. Getting BV one time is more than enough, right?

Is There a Natural Way to Treat BV While Pregnant?

While probiotics are considered safe to take during pregnancy, it is still very important that you discontinue the use of any medication if you become pregnant or are breastfeeding. Seek your doctor’s advice regarding whether you should continue taking the probiotics.

While we do love a good probiotic, having BV during pregnancy is a no-go and should be treated quickly with antibiotics. 

If you’re looking to prevent BV during pregnancy, talk to your doctor about periodic screenings for bacterial vaginosis, and revisit your lifestyle or routine! There are many things you can look out for at home that may help prevent BV and promote your vaginal health. Preventative measures may include:

  • Avoiding scents and perfumes in sanitary products.
  • Wearing cotton underwear
  • Avoiding douching
  • Always using condoms during intercourse.

If you’re someone who experiences BV often, you may wonder why your symptoms keep returning. Some factors may include strongly fragranced hygiene products, your hygiene routine, and your choice of clothing.

Other common triggers of chronic BV include: Heavy periods Having sex without a condom. Changing sexual partners Having multiple partners at a time. Hormonal changes  Douching

Each of these behaviors can affect your vaginal pH and increase your risk of a repeat bacterial vaginosis infection.

Since everyone's body and lifestyle are different, it can be difficult to determine the main trigger causing its recurrence. Luckily, your physician can help you identify if something is causing your BV and advise you on how to proceed. Keeping a health journal or other tracker of your symptoms may help you identify your biggest trigger and help you better manage bouts of recurrence.

Can BV Cause a Miscarriage?

The short answer is yes, unfortunately, there have been links from BV to early miscarriage. However, untreated BV can cause various pregnancy complications such as preterm labor and premature birth, meaning the baby could be born with a low birth weight (less than 5.5 pounds). If you’re unsure about any symptoms you may be experiencing, be sure to consult with your doctor!

BV is extremely common and many people experience recurrent BV symptoms. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, and you know you are prone to BV, make sure to consult with a doctor about your best course of prevention and/or treatment. Before or after pregnancy, you can always connect with a doctor online via Wisp for BV antibiotics and treatment—our doors are open 24/7.

Get BV Medication Online

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