How can I lower my risk of bacterial vaginosis (BV)?

Because bacterial vaginosis (BV) isn’t fully understood, there are no foolproof ways of avoiding it. These steps may reduce your risk:

  • Avoid douching. It changes the natural balance of bacteria in your vagina. Instead, practice healthy vaginal and vulvar care.
  • Avoid vaginal contact with anything that has touched your anus. Things like toilet paper and sex toys could transfer bacteria found in your poop to your vagina. Make sure sexual toys are properly cleaned after every use.
  • Limit your number of sex partners. Research shows you’re more likely to get BV if you have multiple sex partners.
  • Use latex condoms or dental dams. Although it’s unclear why, research indicates that sexual activity is associated with BV.
  • Wear cotton or cotton-lined underwear. Bacteria thrive in moist environments. Cotton helps wick away moisture.

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