Sad and thoughtful woman awake while husband is sleeping in the bed

Is My Partner Giving Me BV?

It’s easy to blame yourself when you notice something bothersome like BV brewing down there. You might think because it’s your body that it’s your fault for not being clean enough or taking proper care of yourself. Contrary this belief, ladies, it is NOT your fault. As a matter of fact, your partner may be playing a role in upsetting your balance.

What Causes BV?

BV, or bacterial vaginosis, is caused by an overgrowth of healthy bacteria in the vagina. A high pH balance can put women at risk for infections like BV. This is because it provides the ideal environment for bacteria to grow and an imbalance to occur.
Anything that can potentially alter the vagina’s pH balance can affect bacteria levels, which paves the way for BV. This means anything from douching, having one or multiple sexual partners, or not using a condom during sex can contribute to BV occurrences. This can happen with both male and female partners.

BV is not considered a sexually transmitted infection, but being sexually active does increase the risk of getting BV. Furthermore, having BV increases the risk of acquiring sexually transmitted infections, like chlamydia or gonorrhea. 

While BV can occur as a result of sex, it can also occur in other instances that don’t involve sexual contact. Women of any age can get BV depending on genetics, race or use of feminine products that interfere with the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina. 

Do Males Get BV?

The short answer is no, males can’t get BV. Males have a penile microbiome, just as women’s vagina’s do. However, males can’t get BV because they do not have the same delicate balance of bacteria.
While males can’t get BV, they can have bacterial overgrowth. They can also carry BV-associated bacteria, but it often goes unnoticed because they don’t experience symptoms. There are conditions like STI’s, UTI’s or yeast infections that can cause symptoms similar to BV in men, usually consisting of itching, discharge or unusual odors.
So if men can’t get BV, then what’s the deal with them giving their partners BV? What do they have to do with it?

Can My Male Partner Give Me BV?

It’s a bit complicated, but male partners can be large contributors to BV in females. Males can contribute to BV in females in one of two ways.
1) Your partner’s natural genital chemistry can change the pH balance of your vagina when you have sex because semen naturally has a higher pH than the vagina. When your pH is elevated and off balance, this then allows excess bacteria to grow and can lead to BV development over time.
2) It’s possible that your partner may carry BV-associated bacteriaYou and your partner each have a community of bacteria on your genitals. When they interact with each other, it can change the environment. This bacteria from your partner’s microbiome can directly impact the onset of BV when transmitted to the vagina during sex.
If you are experiencing frequent BV then it’s certainly possible that your male partner is contributing to the recurrences. Your chances of getting BV are even higher with multiple male sexual partners.

Can My Female Partner Give Me BV?

In this instance, the transmission of BV works a little bit differently. BV can be sexually transmitted between two female partners. This can be through genital contact, shared sex toys or oral sex.
Studies show that women in homosexual relationships are 2.5 times more likely to contract BV than heterosexual women. Because both women have fragile vaginal microbiomes that can easily be affected, it makes sense that when engaging in sexual activities BV can be shared.

It is also true that your chances of BV are higher with multiple sexual partners that are female due to several other microbial environments interacting with your own.

What Can You Do About It?

Don’t be afraid to have an open, honest conversation with your partner. Although it can be awkward or uncomfortable, it’s worth having to ensure you can maintain a healthy and safe sexual life together.
Both you and your partner should consult with your doctors for appropriate testing and treatment if you’re struggling with BV. While additional research is still necessary, studies support the idea that treating both partners can be more effective in reducing recurrence rates. This includes both male and female partners.
When having sex, be sure to use a condom and clean sex toys after every use. Scientists found in a study that women who consistently used condoms had a 45% decreased risk of BV compared with women who did not. BV can increase your risk of contracting STI’s as well, so that’s all the more reason to wrap it up. Limiting your number of sexual partners, whether male or female, can also lessen your risk of BV.
Try using boric acid suppositories after having sex. These are great for at-home treatment of BV and super effective in getting things under control quickly.

Final Thoughts

Dealing with BV can be a complex issue for all parties involved and it’s not always easy to tell what the real cause is. If your partner is causing your BV, the likelihood is it’s out of their control or they aren’t aware that it’s happening. Whether they are contributing to your recurring BV or not, it’s still something you’ll need to work through together and learn the best practices for future prevention.