Bacterial vaginosis in men! Is that possible?

By | July 5, 2017

Bacterial vaginosis or BV is a common cause of abnormal vaginal discharge that develops when the ecosystem of bacteria in the vagina is not balanced. Bad bacteria may outnumber the good bacteria, resulting in higher pH levels, specifically more acidic than the usual range of 3.5 – 4.5.

An example of bad bacteria that could overgrow and trigger the occurrence of BV is Gardnerella vaginitis, which is common but harmful when imbalanced.
Many women get BV due to this imbalance of bacteria after menstruation or after sexual intercourse. However, it is not sexually transmitted and is not applicable at all to men, hence the name that features the female’s primary sexual organ, not the male’s.

What men can get, however, is yeast infection, resulting from unprotected sex with women who have vaginal yeast infection, and not bacterial vaginosis.
The risk is greater for uncircumcised men, however. The appearance of rashes caused by yeast infection can be described as spotty, red, and dry, probably peeling as well. These rashes are accompanied by irritation, itchiness, and burning sensation.

BV is most common in women between the ages of 15 and 44. Reportedly, 1 out of 3 women will get it at one point in their whole lifetime.

Aside from the previously mentioned abnormal, white vaginal discharge, other symptoms of BV include itching or irritation in the vagina, a burning sensation while urinating, and an unfavorable fishy odor more commonly observed after sexual intercourse.
Unfortunately, many women who are suffering from BV, do not exhibit the symptoms. In those cases, diagnosis is made only after a vaginal swab is performed.

For some women, the vaginal infection goes away without any treatment. However, it is highly recommended that those afflicted go to the gynecologist at once to be treated, as bacterial vaginosis is known to increase risk of other serious medical conditions like gonorrhea, chlamydia, pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and premature delivery for pregnant women.
An important note is that bacterial vaginosis is different from a yeast infection, although both share the symptom of thick, white vaginal discharge. However, yeast infections can be passed to a male partner, albeit rarely. It is more common after unprotected sex, and may manifest in a man’s sexual organ as an itchy and red rash near the tip of the penis.

A fair warning in self-diagnosis is that most sexually-transmitted diseases share symptoms with yeast infection and BV, which is why it’s wiser to visit a gynecologist to clarify everything
The doctor may treat bacterial vaginosis with antibiotics, although many cases involve women returning around three to six months after treatment due to recurring symptoms. Similarly, both men and women who get yeast infections more than four times a year will be recommended regular doses of antifungal medication over several months by their doctor.

The scenario of continuously recurring sexual-related medical conditions is quite common, but still highlights the importance of continuing medications and taking care of the vagina even after all is well. Treatment may even reduce risk of other sexually-transmitted diseases.