STD Home > Causes of Bacterial Vaginosis

The main bacterial vaginosis causes are too many harmful bacteria in the vagina, which leads to an imbalance. Factors such as having multiple sex partners, douching, or using an intrauterine device may lead to this increase in bacteria. These factors, although not true "causes" on their own, can make a woman more likely to develop bacterial vaginosis.

What Are the Causes of Bacterial Vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis causes are not fully understood. The condition can develop when something like sexual contact disrupts the balance between the "good" bacteria that protect the vagina from infection and the harmful bacteria that don't.

Sexual Contact as a Bacterial Vaginosis Causes

It is not clear what role sexual activity plays in the development of bacterial vaginosis, but the condition is more common among women who have had vaginal sex. However, sexual contact is not always a cause of bacterial vaginosis.

Risk Factors for Bacterial Vaginosis

We do know that certain things can upset the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina and put you at increased risk for bacterial vaginosis. Some of these things include:
  • Having a new sex partner or multiple sex partners
  • Douching
  • Using an intrauterine device (IUD) for birth control
  • Not using a condom during sex.
We also know that you do not get bacterial vaginosis from toilet seats, bedding, swimming pools, or from touching objects around you.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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