Having trouble convincing your guy that he’s part of the BV puzzle?

There is enough scientific evidence at this stage that men carry bacterial vaginosis biofilms in and on their penis like women carry it in their vaginas. Men can pass the bacteria to their female sexual partners whenever they have sex without a condom.

Not every guy will carry BV-related bacteria for a long time on or in their penis, but you can’t know if a man does or does not have BV-causing bacteria and biofilms lingering from you or a previous partner. Both of you have to understand the problem and deal with it.

The thing to remember is that even if you and your partner have only ever had sex with each other, BV is likely now getting passed back and forwards. No matter how the BV originally began, men have a pivotal role in clearing it up. It is no longer just your problem; it’s ‘our’ problem.

If you are undergoing Killing BV vaginal treatments and want your resistant male partner to participate, read on.

The BV blame game

Trying to convince someone that they are either the cause of your misery or now contributing to your misery is a toughie. Being blamed for anything is not easy to swallow, particularly when it comes to something gross, unfortunate, or invisible – all of which BV is.

You can easily blame him, yourself, or another incident (sometimes BV appears after surgery).

It does matter where your BV came from, but asking your partner to take responsibility for his continuing role in your vaginal ecosystem is important. How you do that will depend on many factors, largely your personality and way of handling problems.

This article provides some ideas for how to get a resistant man to learn about BV and treat himself.

Things to understand about this process

Nobody did this on purpose

First, neither he nor you had any way of knowing that this would be the outcome of sex without a condom.

Second, men don’t usually get any symptoms. This makes BV-related bacteria invisible to men, so the only way anyone could have found out is by you getting BV.

Hopefully, BV bacteria may soon be listed as sexually transmitted, but it doesn’t quite fit the category requirements, so it may not.

Until it’s listed and routinely tested for, BV-related bacteria cannot be prevented from spreading. We can’t protect ourselves from what we don’t know about.

Being angry and upset

You might say, or feel like saying, You are the cause of all my vagina problems! You have ruined my life! I was fine before I met you!

Feeling angry is normal, and you have every right to feel rage. Your vagina is a mess, our medical system is failing you, and the treatments aren’t working.

You spend hours researching, have lost your ability to have sex freely, have spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars on treatments that haven’t worked and are at a loss. You have every right to feel angry and upset.

Feeling shame

Women are socialised to believe as we ‘perform our gender’ that their bodies are one of the few things of worth that they have, if not the only thing of worth. Men can feel entitled to access women’s bodies; women may use this transaction to garner affection, love, and stuff.

When something goes wrong, especially with our vaginas – our one supposed power point – you can feel like your vag power has been lost. This can be devastating in ways that we don’t fully understand.

It’s worth considering; if you need to, talk it over with someone. Feeling like your body has failed you and worrying that you’ll always have this problem is a terrible place to be without support.

Remember, this is a temporary problem that, with the right treatment, can be solved. It’s just finding the right treatment that’s important. You are not ruined forever! Read our piece on shame and BV.

Being failed by our medical system

BV is a public health emergency, but one of many. Doctors don’t have the time or energy to be on top of everything all the time. They are only human. Many doctors cannot treat your BV effectively and may not have read the research demonstrating that men are involved in BV spreading between partners.

Your doctor may not test, treat, or acknowledge that men are part of the BV puzzle. If the doctor does acknowledge this, men are usually only treated as women are – with antibiotics. Antibiotics given to male partners have proved largely ineffective at preventing the recurrence of BV in female partners.

This tells us that men’s biofilms are as resistant as women’s, and antibiotics are often ineffective in treating BV in both men and women. We are not being treated effectively for BV, and you have to take your health into your own hands.

In a perfect world…

Ideally, your guy feels absolutely terrible and can’t wait to read Killing BV: Guide for Men and doing the treatments with you. He will not even try to put his penis into your vagina without a condom until he is sure that not only is he all clear, and so are you (he doesn’t want to get it back again).

Strategies to motivate a man to go through treatment and educate himself on BV in men

  • He doesn’t want gross BV germs on his penis, does he?
  • If you break up/he has sex with someone else, he doesn’t want to give the next person BV, does he?
  • He doesn’t want to be known as the guy who gives everyone a fishy vag, does he?
  • Does he know that he might have BV in his mouth?
  • If he doesn’t do this with you, then you may never have sex without a condom
  • You must use condoms until the problem is solved

Germs can give everyone the heebie-jeebies, so use a man’s love of his own penis with a sprinkling of germaphobia to your advantage. Make sure he knows just how much you are suffering, how expensive it is, how bad it makes you feel too. Make him feel sorry for you (as he should), and at the very least, to humour you by going through treatment.

All you need is for him to go through treatment and to care enough about it to make attempts for it not to happen again.

When your guy refuses to accept responsibility for his part in your BV

Now, refusing point-blank to have sex without a condom may be your best power move. Having someone who cares so little about your well-being may make you very angry, as it well should, so figuring out how you want to deal with the overarching messages here is worth considering.

Removing this man from your life is a serious option. 

Luckily, BV is so uncomfortable and gross that most women can find the motivation to refuse condomless sex that will flare up symptoms or reinfect her.

Take care of your body, and do not have sex without a condom with a man you know will infect you with BV-related bacteria or that you will re-infect.

BV must be taken seriously by everyone involved. It might be embarrassing, hard to talk about and bring up a lot of feelings of shame, but standing up for yourself is important.

  1. Gardnerella biofilm involves females and males and is transmitted sexually
  2. Desquamated epithelial cells covered with a polymicrobial biofilm typical for bacterial vaginosis are present in randomly selected cryopreserved donor semen 
  3. Prevalence of Gardnerella vaginalis in Male Sexual Partners of Women With and Without Bacterial Vaginosis

There are more, but that’s a good place for him to start reading.

Why is he like this?

It can be very difficult to believe in something you can’t see or feel, and that can increase our resistance to taking responsibility. It’s also terrible to be blamed for something as awful as BV, when you are unsure if it’s true.

Inexperience in the ways of the world and ignorance of biology can also be an issue, which you have to decide if you will plough through as a team or move on from each other.

Discussion topics – stuff that has come up

The ‘slutty woman with a stinky vagina’ complex

Some men (and some women) mistakenly believe that a woman with a smelly vagina is ‘slutty’, promiscuous, and ‘sleeping with everyone’.

A woman’s sex life is irrelevant – having sex with men who have BV-related biofilms on their penis without a condom – even just one – can give you BV. So can douching. So can vaginal dysbiosis. There are many reasons why BV develops.

It is true that the more sexual partners you’ve had, the more likely you are to have BV, but that’s a numbers game – the more doors you knock on without condoms in your purse, the more likely it is that BV will creep into your vagina from one of these men.

You can get BV on your first or last time, and you can even get it from cryopreserved sperm donors even if you’ve never had sex with a man.

If anything teaches you to use condoms, it’s BV.

The ‘too hard and too gross’ basket – vagina love versus vagina aversion

BV is a nightmare. It’s unpredictable, embarrassing, doesn’t respond long enough or well enough to treatments, and there are no standardised treatments for men. Then one day, you feel ok enough to have sex and boom, there it is again.

Men do not understand the emotional, physical and financial toll that BV takes. It’s our responsibility to teach them so that in future our education means that this never happens to another woman or them. BV is a miserable problem.

Many men are grossed out, embarrassed or overwhelmed by women’s hormonal or vaginal problems. There is both vagina love and vagina aversion and the minute the vagina goes ‘bad’, it goes into the too hard, too gross basket.

“Women’s problems” is a good escape hatch (read: cop-out) for men who feel out of their depth with women’s bodies and have a low quick threshold.

This is ok to a point – he doesn’t have to be interested – but you need to protect your vagina from people who don’t care enough. BV saps the joy from your very soul, and the person you have sex with needs to care about that, even on a superficial level.

Imagine every time you had sex with someone, you made their penis smell like fish for months, and no treatment worked to cure it, but your vagina was completely fine.

The fact is, no man is going to stick around for a fishy penis every time you have sex while you walk away without symptoms, dismiss his concerns and refuse treatment. Imagine.

Don’t you stick around for more bad vag. It’s gross! Clear yourself up and get out of there if your partner doesn’t seem interested in your health. Stick up for yourself.

When you gave him the BV

If men don’t have a history of bad vag behind them, then the BV may have originated with you, which is also reasonably normal (BV can start for many reasons). But this doesn’t mean he can’t pass it back to you once you’ve given it to him or that he doesn’t need treatment.

If you gave your guy BV-related bacteria, be sorry but don’t grovel. It’s not the same as being rude to his mother. It’s the same as giving someone a treatable STI, which is bad manners but not a mortal sin. It happens.

How to keep yourself safe from BV once you are properly treated and BV free

  • After the ordeal of BV, you will feel very differently about condoms – find a brand you like and use them until you are completely confident you will not get BV again
  • If you’re not confident using condoms, practice being responsible for putting them on – there are hot ways to do this –
  • Instead of just your regular sexually transmitted infection (STI) screening, get a full PCR test and request one from any new sexual partner – yes it’s ‘over the top’, but so is BV
  • Ask about the bad vag history of sexual partners
  • Talk to your doctors and educate them about BV biofilms and men’s involvement – don’t be shy – they don’t know everything!

BV is a disaster for men and women, and needs to be treated with more respect and caution than it is. Antibiotics are less and less effective, and education is absurdly slow.

Don’t accept second best from your lovers. Give them every opportunity to step up, but don’t take sloppy sexual health measures. You only get one vagina, so take care of it.

Original price was: USD $9.99.Current price is: USD $0.00. ex GST/VAT/TAX
Original price was: USD $9.95.Current price is: USD $0.00. ex GST/VAT/TAX
Jessica Lloyd - Vulvovaginal Specialist 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)