How to treat a male sexual partner for BV

Men carry bacterial vaginosis (BV) bacteria and biofilms on and in their penis and urethra, and are passing it around to their female sexual partners – this is why ‘a new sexual partner’ is one of the main triggers for BV. Anyone having sex with women are passing it from vagina to vagina, and there are often different biotypes of bacteria involved. BV is everyone’s problem, not just women’s.

If you or your male sexual partner are unconvinced that he has the infection and biofilm, he should read this research on penis biofilms and BV. Our biofilm penis treatment plan for men can be found in our Killing BV: Guide for Men. If you are a man who has been in contact with a BV-laced vagina, we recommend that you read this book and follow the treatment plan.

Treating a male sexual partner for BV requires a thorough understanding of how the biofilms work so that you don’t waste your time on ineffective treatments, or worse, don’t think you/your male partner needs treatment.

      About G. vaginalis infections in men – how it works

There is some evidence to show that without direct physical repeated skin-on-skin contact with a BV-infected vagina, a male sexual partner’s G. vaginalis infection in the urethra and on the penis will disappear by itself.

Evidence suggests that the bacteria will continue to live in his urethra and on his penis so long as he is exposed to it, which is good news for the male partners of women with BV, because with the use of condoms, the infection goes away by itself most of the time.

Most of the time – but not all the time. This means that some men will retain their infection and need treatment, but at the moment there is no way of knowing if you or your partner are continuing to be infectious. This means any penis that has been in contact with a BV vagina should be treated, with the longer the contact likely meaning the worse the infection. If you have used (and will continue to use) condoms religiously, treatment will not be necessary.

Men must know that there is a very high chance that they have G. vaginalis in their urethra and on the end of their penises, so it is critical to use condoms with all sex partners to stop the spread of the infection, via biofilm seed bacteria. Any man with a foreskin is far more susceptible to these biofilms.

     What your doctor will do and why it is a stab in the dark

Men may be prescribed antibiotics if their female sex partner gets a BV diagnosis, but this is a stab in the dark – men aren’t tested for G. vaginalis and therefore there is no way of knowing – or effectively using – antibiotics. The biofilm is resistant to antibiotics, so to be sure of elimination of BV, both men and women must effectively address the biofilm. If your doctor suggests you take antibiotics, ask them for the evidence to support this use in men. It doesn’t exist, but they don’t have any other solutions, so they will likely offer antibiotics.

Treating men can be done in a few ways, but because men are not tested, removing the biofilm from the penis is very much an at-home operation, much like all biofilm eradication methods for BV. There is so little research into BV bacteria in men that nobody has yet offered up any sort of treatment at all (except us), bar antibiotics which are still not routine for men.

Once a woman treats herself (Killing BV for women) – and has been three months without a flare-up or non-condomed sex – her male partner is likely to be free from BV-related bacteria without any treatment, but condoms are necessary in the short-term to prevent reinfection (the three months until the woman is clear) and steps can be taken to help reduce any lingering penile biofilms. We suggest men are treated too, however, because when it comes to BV, safe is better than recurrent BV.

Antibiotics do not work in men, for the same reasons they don’t work in women. If your doctor suggests taking antibiotics for male sexual partners, try the Killing BV men’s treatment instead. It is a waste of valuable antibiotic resistance development in your body and bacteria. Read more about the research into antibiotic treatments for male partners of women with BV.

After successfully treating BV, the female vaginal microflora should be very strong after three months, but it is advisable to be really careful and don’t go too gung-ho with the semen – and the penis – until it is clear the BV won’t be returning.

     Key facts on BV in men:

  • Condoms or other sexual protection stops the spread and reinfection of BV between all sexual partners, male or female
  • Men’s G. vaginalis infection seems to most often disappear without continued contact with a BV vagina, but the time it takes to go away is not known and we do not recommend taking this risk, especially if you have a foreskin
  • Men can spread different biotypes of G. vaginalis to different women, infecting them (BV is sexually transmitted)
  • A man can be effectively treated using our men’s treatment

     Treatment strategies for men

Our treatment strategy – Killing BV: Guide for Men – is a direct penis treatment with biofilm-busting treatments to attack the problem from multiple angles. All our books come with free email support for men, and our exclusive support section providing access to treatment strategies for men in conjunction with our treatments for women. Men have their own support section.

     Treatment strategies for single/poly men who have been in contact with BV vaginas

If you are a man who is in sexual contact with women who are being treated for BV (or who you suspect have BV), we recommend you read Killing BV: Guide for Men so you understand the problem and how you are contributing to the spread of bacterial vaginosis. We’ll walk you through how to get rid of it.

We also recommend that you talk to your female sexual partners about BV, because women don’t understand it either, and may be struggling with it. Run it past them, and send them to My Vagina or send them a copy of Killing BV for women.


Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)
Read more about Jessica and My Vagina's origin story.
Jessica Lloyd - Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

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