STD Home > Preventing Bacterial Vaginosis

Open communication with your healthcare provider and sexual partners is an important part of preventing bacterial vaginosis. Practicing safe sex is another key part, as is having sex with only one partner -- or even abstaining from sex altogether. By practicing good prevention, you can avoid many of the complications that can occur with this condition.

An Overview of Bacterial Vaginosis Prevention

Bacterial vaginosis is not well understood by scientists, and the best ways of preventing it are still being determined.

Ways to Lower Your Risk

It is known that bacterial vaginosis is associated with having a new sex partner or having multiple sex partners. The following tips can help lower your risk for getting bacterial vaginosis:
  • Don't have sex. The best way to prevent any sexually transmitted disease (STD) is to practice abstinence by not having vaginal, oral, or anal sex.
  • Be faithful. Only having sex 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. 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 bacterial vaginosis. It may also increase the chances of bacterial vaginosis coming back after treatment.
  • Talk with your sex partner(s) about STDs and using condoms. It's up to you to make sure that you are protected. Remember, it's your body!
  • Talk frankly with your doctor or nurse and your sex partner(s). Be sure to discuss any STDs you or your partner currently have or have had in the past. 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.
  • Get tested for bacterial vaginosis if you are pregnant and have possible symptoms. Also get tested if you have had a premature delivery or low birth weight baby in the past. Get tested as soon as you think you may be pregnant.
  • Finish your medicine. If you have bacterial vaginosis, 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.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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