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I just found out my partner has had unprotected sex with other women. I’ve been having troubles with bacterial vaginosis at times. Could this be related? When I found out, I did have STI testing and he did also.


Thanks for writing.

That can be difficult to hear that your partner is having unprotected sex with other people. It’s great that you both got tested after.

In terms of the bacterial vaginosis, it’s unlikely to be affected by your partner’s activities. Bacterial vaginosis is not sexually transmitted, or passed between partners. Bacterial vaginosis is an overgrowth of normal vaginal bacteria (so it’s not “bad” bacteria), and it’s your own bacteria (so it didn’t come from anyone else).

It’s common for women get bacterial vaginosis whether they are sexually active or not. Many women will get bacterial vaginosis frequently for a few years, and then it can settle down and not come back. Sometimes women who have multiple sexual partners can get bacterial vaginosis more often, as they are being directly exposed to different people’s bacteria. You would not be exposed to other people’s bacteria through your partner (normal bacteria can’t be passed indirectly, only STIs can be passed indirectly).

Lastly, just a reminder than it can take up to 3 months for STIs to show-up in testing. If you only got tested a few weeks after your partner had other partner's, it would be good to get re-tested after 3 months just to be sure.

Hope this helps. Please feel free to comment below or submit another question as needed.

Health Nurse

This answer was posted on October 4, 2018

Community comments

booknerd says:

This is a follow up question to the above one. Im in a non monogamous relationship, my longterm partner and I have been forgoing condoms etc with each other but use gloves, dams, and condoms with other partners. hes now chosen to forgo barriers with a second partner. what's my increased risk?

Health Nurse says:

Hi there

Thanks for your question. Typically, the more partners a person has, the higher the chances are of getting or transmitting an STI between some or all of those partners. That being said, it completely depends on the use of protection and those other peoples' sexual activity. 

For example, one person can have multiple partners. But if each of those people is only having sex with that one person, and they have all tested negative for STIs then actually the risk is very low. But if a person has multple partners, and each of those people has multiple partners then the risk becomes higher. When protection is used, some of that risk is mitigated.

I would encourage you and your partner to maintain strong, open lines of communication. This, along with protection, and regular STI testing are all protective factors in preventing passing STIs between you. 

Health Nurse 

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