The first time I had bacterial vaginosis (BV), I was in grad school. I had been dating my boyfriend for two years and I freaked out. I thought he gave me an STI. My vagina was on fire. I had this weird discharge and itched like I've never itched before. 

I didn't confront him at first. I went to the gyno. The doctor told me you get it from sex but that my partner was probably fine. They don't consider it an STI; it's exacerbated by sex. But I hadn't had an STI before and I wasn't used to the extreme itching. I was pissed. I had to take this nasty pill that made me feel disgusting.

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Later I got another case of BV. I'd hooked up with this guy and he got his finger near my ass and then put it in my vagina. Basically BV is this umbrella term for a couple different types of bacteria that you can have an overgrowth of. That time I got it because the guy that I hooked up with wasn't being very sanitary.

I got it one other time recently. I had a new sexual partner, but I also had the flu and a sinus infection, and my immune system was down. I think that's what set me up for another infection again.

When I went for treatment, they gave me hard-core antibiotics at first. I had a lot of side effects. My urine was really dark; I had to pee all the time. I suffered horrible stomach cramps, bad headaches, dizziness, and a really awful metallic taste in my mouth. My ears were ringing. It was the worst! I felt like vomiting.

But later I could use topical antibiotic gel, which was great. It was much better than the oral antibiotics. It's clear, doesn't smell like anything, and it didn't make me vomit. This last time I went in for BV, the doctor gave me a new suppository cream that cleared it up instantly. That stuff is a miracle cream.

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Then at my recent visit with my new gyno, I learned that there is a product now available over the counter—. You can test your own pH to see if your symptoms are caused by a yeast infection, which can be treated with Monistat (miconazole). Or the test will tell you if need to go to your doctor and be diagnosed with BV.

Obviously the creams are messier than taking pills. The other downside is that if they are made with oil, they can make condoms less effective. But I feel like the side effects of the suppositories were a lot easier to deal with than the side effects of the oral antibiotic. The messiness kind of reminded me not to have sex. I think it's important, when you have BV, to skip the sex. Give your body a rest.

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