There is still a large amount of confusion regarding bacterial vaginosis; more specifically, there is still a grey area around how exactly BV can spread between sexual partners. A common question we see repeatedly online (regarding BV) is whether or not men can give women Bacterial Vaginosis. Now, men cannot get bacterial vaginosis although they can carry the bacteria that can cause BV in women. If this bacteria accumulation is possible to be passed to women, through unprotected sexual activity, then you could say that men with the bacteria can transmit it to their female partner(s).
Can a man give a woman BV?
So, the short answer here is yes but conditionally. Men, themselves, will not be able to get Bacterial Vaginosis as it’s a bacterial infection inside the vagina. However, as we said earlier, men can get BV bacteria (in the penis or the urethra) from unprotected sexual activity with a woman who has BV. Therefore, yes men can spread the BV bacteria to women during sexual activity but it’s not quite the same as spreading BV; the bacteria spread can increase a woman's chances of getting BV. This does not mean that a woman is going to get BV from a male sexual partner (if he has the bacteria) but chances are significantly higher. The best way to avoid spreading the bacteria to your (sexual) partner is to wait until any BV infection is completely cleared up before any sexual activity and to also wear protection. Unprotected sexual activity is one of the most common ways of getting BV as it can disrupt your healthy bacteria levels and put you more at risk of ‘harmful’ bacteria. It’s ‘bad’ bacteria that can trigger an infection like BV. If you are having unprotected sexual interocurse with a male partner - that may also be carrying the BV bacteria- then your chances of contracting BV are even higher! But there are ways to avoid this…
How can I stop my male partner from giving me BV?
As we mentioned before, one of the best ways to avoid getting as well as spreading BV (and BV bacteria) is to ensure that you wear protection during sexual activity and intercourse. Therefore this can ensure that the bacteria are less likely to be spread to your male partner. You may not be aware that you have BV (as a woman) right away but if you are having unprotected sexual interocurse - even if with your same long-term partner- then you could still be potentially passing on the bacteria to him. The best way to stop your make partner from continuously giving you the BV related bacteria is:
- Refrain from sexual activity until your Bacterial Vaginosis has cleared up
- Always wear protection like condoms
- Ensure any couples (sexual enhancement) toys are thoroughly washed before each use
Following this advice can ensure that if you do get BV, you give yourself time to ensure it’s completely cleared before resuming sexual activity or if you do, wearing protection can help contain the intimate bacteria from further disruption.
Do male partners need to be treated for BV?
If you are a woman who has Bacterial Vaginosis (or has had it in the past) then you will know that treatment - for women - is very important. You would not want to leave BV to grow into a bigger health concern as it can affect pregnancy, and fertility and even include pain & discomfort if untreated. The same is not said for men who might have BV-related bacteria on their penis. Male sex partners of women who have BV do not need treatment; they cannot contract Bacterial Vaginosis as we have already discussed. Same-sex (female) partners would both need to get treatment if they are sexually active and one has BV. Men do not, typically, need to be treated for BV as they cannot contract it. However, if they do have BV-related bacteria or similar on their penis then sexual health is advised to ensure it’s not an STI; give them the appropriate treatment. This treatment would not be for BV, but to ensure any bacteria they might have contracted is not an STI or another condition.
What is the male version of BV?
Whilst men cannot get Bacterial Vaginosis, as they do not have a vagina, that does not mean that they are immune from similar bacterial-related infections. Bacterial Vaginosis might not be something (most) men need to be treated for or even contract, but they can still get a different type of infection. There is not strictly a men's equivalent or ‘version’ of BV but some men can acquire a yeast infection. A male yeast infection is typically referred to as Tinea Cruris or more commonly called jock itch. This type of yeast infection can cause itchiness, pain, swelling and redness as well as cause unpleasant chances to discharge. A male yeast infection (jock itch) can be treated with over-the-counter medication like antifungals. Depending on the severity, it can take between 3-5 days to clear up, or a little longer. Once again if you do have jock itch it’s advised that you either refrain from sexual activity with your partner or make sure that you are wearing condoms to ensure no bacteria are being spread as women can catch jock itch! It can be passed by skin-to-skin contact so it’s best to clear up an infection first before being intimate with your partner; to avoid spreading the infection.To clarify, men cannot get BV as it can only occur inside a woman's vaginas; hence the term Bacterial Vaginosis. Men can carry BV bacteria and potentially spread it to female sexual partners; therefore protected sex is always advised to limit your risk of contracting BV. BV can be ‘easy’ to get, plus it’s also common and treatment is non-invasive as well as very effective. For more information on the topic of Bacterial Vaginosis, be sure to check out our Health Insider Blog where we have coved BV in great depth. You can send us a DM on Instagram if you need further assistance with a personal query.