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Can condoms prevent bacterial vaginosis (BV)?

Studies have shown that condom use during sex may help lower your risk of getting bacterial vaginosis. So let's dig into the details:

What Is BV?

Bacterial Vaginosis, often referred to as BV, is what happens when there is too much of certain bacteria in the vagina. It is an imbalance of the "good" vs "harmful" bacteria in the vagina.

 

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What are the symptoms and side effects of BV?

Many people with BV don't show symptoms. However, it puts you at a higher risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Symptoms can include:

  • Thin white or gray vaginal discharge;
  • Pain, itching, or burning in the vagina;
  • A strong fish-like odor, especially after sex;
  • Burning when peeing; and
  • Itching around the outside of the vagina.

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How It's Spread

It is not completely understood how BV is spread. However, there are certain activities that can upset the bacterial balance in the vagina, which can increase your risk for getting BV, including: douching, not using condoms, or having new/multiple sexual partners.

The CDC recommends using condoms to help lower your risk of getting BV. Other prevention measures that may lower your risk include: not having sex, limiting your number of sexual partners, and avoiding douching.

It's important to note that condoms must be used the right way in order to be considered helpful in lowering your risk of getting BV.

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The Research

A 2008 systematic review that looked at the sexual risk factors associated with BV found that condom use was protective against bacterial vaginosis.

Another study showed that condom use can reduce the risk of BV by 45%.

And a more recent study found that consistent condom use increases the colonization of Lactobacillus crispatus in the vagina, a protective species of vaginal bacteria that helps guard the microbiome against BV-causing bacteria.

Microbiome-friendly Condoms

It's worth nothing that not all condoms are created equal, and some ingredients might disrupt your microbiome.

Ingredients like Nonoxynol-9 (found in most spermicides), flavours, and glycerin (found in some lubes) can cause irritation and disrupt your vaginal microbiome.

Slipp condoms are free from these ingredients and made with just natural rubber latex and 100% silicone lubricant in an effort to ensure vaginal comfort.

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