Untreated Bacterial Vaginosis: What If I Don’t Treat BV?

Untreated Bacterial Vaginosis: What If I Don’t Treat BV?

Ask the Expert

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Q:

What happens if I don't treat my bacterial vaginosis?


A:

It's important to not only treat your bacterial vaginosis (BV) but also to take the medication for the full course of treatment even if your symptoms go away.

Though tempting, don't try to treat BV with over-the-counter products designed to treat yeast infections, such as various antifungal medications in the form of vaginal creams, ointments and suppositories. These may give 1 or 2 days of moderate relief, but will not take care of the underlying infection.

Left untreated, BV can lead to other problems and complications, which may include: having an increased risk for contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) such as chlamydia or gonorrhea; having an increased risk of developing pelvic inflammatory disease, an infection of a woman's organs that may lead to infertility; and having a higher likelihood of contracting HIV (if you have sex with an infected person).

There's no evidence that pregnant women need to be routinely screened for BV. However, if a pregnant woman has symptoms of BV, she should be tested and treated immediately with the same antibiotic used for women who aren't pregnant. Left untreated, BV can cause low–birth-weight babies (less than 5.5 pounds) and premature delivery.

To treat BV, your health care provider may prescribe either oral antibiotics or topical antibiotics, which are inserted into the vagina.

Unfortunately, despite treatment, BV can recur within three to 12 months.

Although most of the survey respondents completed the required course of treatment, 69 percent had a recurrence of their symptoms.

References

  1. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/yeast-infection/basics/treatment/con-20035129
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/std/pid/stdfact-pid.htm
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/std/tg2015/specialpops.htm
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/std/bv/stdfact-bacterial-vaginosis.htm
  5. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bacterial-vaginosis/diagnosis-treatment/treatment/txc-20198421
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