Medically reviewed on May 16, 2023 by Jillian Foglesong Stabile, MD, FAAFP. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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Bacterial vaginosis, or BV, is the most common condition affecting the vagina. In fact, it’s prevalent among young and adult reproductive-aged women between the ages of 15 and 44.  Knowing this, you may wonder, Is bacterial vaginosis an STD?
Because bacterial vaginosis isn’t an infection, it’s not an STD/STI—rather, it’s an adverse condition that arises when the bacterial ecology in the vagina becomes imbalanced or disturbed. [1, 7]
Although BV isn’t classified as an STD/STI, it can increase your likelihood of contracting one.  For this reason, understanding how BV can develop and present itself is critical to preventing BV and other related sexual health conditions.
There is no single known cause of BV.  However, there are some practices and habits that may heighten an individual’s risk of disturbing the vaginal flora. 
These include: 
Like other conditions related to sexual health, many myths surround bacterial vaginosis and how it develops. However, it’s not possible to develop BV by: 
Research suggests that unresolved BV is correlated with a heightened risk of STIs and HIV.  One paper demonstrates that BV may nearly double the risk of contracting chlamydia or gonorrhea in women, especially.7 More recent research suggests that BV may elevate the risk of contracting genital herpes and HPV (human papillomavirus). 
While investigations into the relationship between BV and sexually transmitted diseases remain ongoing, evidence suggests a strong correlation between the two reproductive conditions.  For this reason, diagnosing and treating BV as soon as possible is a crucial strategy for managing risk and promoting long-term sexual health.
The demographic most impacted by BV are sexually active people with female anatomy, irrespective of gender identity. If you’re sexually active and do not use condoms while engaging in penetrative sex, you may be at higher risk of developing BV.
The most common symptoms of bacterial vaginosis are: 
However, many people who have BV may notice no observable symptoms.
The most common method for treating BV is through a course of antibiotics. These may be administered topically (with cream) or orally (with a pill or tablet). Two antibiotics approved for the treatment of BV include: 
In some cases, BV may arise again after undergoing antibiotic treatment. Recurrent BV cases are relatively common, even after complete remission, affecting an estimated 50% of women who develop BV. 
High rates of recurrent BV are one reason why it’s crucial to follow your healthcare provider’s prescribed course of treatment. When antibiotics are taken inconsistently, incompletely, or improperly, they may increase the risk of bacterial resistance.  This can make them less effective at correcting the bacterial imbalance, and potentially raise your risk of developing BV again. 
While BV remains one of the more common reproductive health concerns today, it can nevertheless be a stubborn condition to deal with. Staying informed about your sexual health status with regular STD testing is just one way to take a proactive approach to care for your overall well-being.
If you’re concerned BV has put you at risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease, Everlywell can help. Book an online appointment for women’s health to speak with an experienced clinician to discuss your concerns. If needed, they can recommend the best course of action for online STD testing and treatment.
Take steps to improve your health and well-being with Everlywell.