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Causes of BV

The main BV causes are harmful bacteria in the vagina that have become overgrown and out of balance. Factors such as having multiple sex partners, douching, not using a condom, or using an intrauterine device may lead to this overgrowth. These factors, though not true causes of the condition on their own, can make a woman more likely to develop BV.

What Causes BV?

The causes of BV (bacterial vaginosis) are not understood. It can develop when something -- for example, sexual contact -- disrupts the balance between the "good" bacteria that protect the vagina from infection and the harmful bacteria that don't.

Is Sexual Contact a BV Cause?

It is not clear what role sexual activity plays in the development of BV, but the condition is more common among women who have had vaginal sex. However, sexual contact is not always a BV cause.

Risk Factors for BV

We do know that certain things can upset the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina and put you at greater risk for BV. Some of these things include:
  • Having a new sex partner or multiple sex partners
  • Using an intrauterine device (IUD) for birth control
  • Douching
  • Not using a condom during sex.
We also know that you do not get BV from toilet seats, bedding, swimming pools, or from touching objects around you.
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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