Bacterial Vaginosis

What is Bacterial Vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common vaginal infection caused by an overgrowth of various bacteria in the vagina. Normally, there is a delicate balance of several bacteria that live in your vagina. With BV, this balance is disrupted, leading to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria.

Who’s at Risk for Bacterial Vaginosis?

While any woman can get BV, certain factors increase the risk. These include having a new sex partner or multiple sex partners, douching, and not using condoms during intercourse. It's important to note that BV isn't considered a sexually transmitted infection, but sexual activity can increase the risk.

What Causes Bacterial Vaginosis?

The exact cause of BV isn't known, but it occurs when the balance of bacteria in the vagina is disrupted. This can be triggered by various factors, such as sexual activity, douching, and the use of certain antibiotics.

How does Bacterial Vaginosis Start?

The onset of BV is usually marked by a change in the balance of bacteria in the vagina. This imbalance can cause symptoms such as a thin white or gray vaginal discharge, a foul-smelling "fishy" vaginal odor, vaginal itching, and burning during urination.

What are the Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis?

Many women with BV have no symptoms, but those who do may experience a thin white or gray vaginal discharge, a foul-smelling "fishy" vaginal odor, vaginal itching, and burning during urination.

How is Bacterial Vaginosis Diagnosed?

BV is typically diagnosed during a gynecological exam. Your healthcare provider may also take a sample of vaginal secretions for laboratory examination under a microscope, or check the pH level of your vagina.

How can Bacterial Vaginosis be Treated?

BV is usually treated with prescription antibiotics. Even after treatment, BV can recur, so it's important to follow your healthcare provider's instructions closely and complete the full course of treatment.

What Complications May Occur with Bacterial Vaginosis?

While BV itself is not dangerous, it can increase a woman's risk of getting sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, and it can lead to problems during pregnancy such as premature delivery.

How Can I Prevent Bacterial Vaginosis?

The best way to prevent BV is to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the vagina. This can be achieved by avoiding douching, limiting the number of sex partners, and using condoms during intercourse.

Long-term Management of Bacterial Vaginosis

Long-term management of BV involves preventing recurrences, which can be achieved by following the prevention measures mentioned above. In some cases, prolonged antibiotic treatment may be recommended.

What is Recent Research Saying About Bacterial Vaginosis?

Recent research on BV is focused on better understanding the causes of bacterial imbalance in the vagina, improving diagnostic methods, and finding more effective treatments to prevent recurrences.

Where Can I Go For More Information on Bacterial Vaginosis? For more information on BV, visit reputable health websites like the US NIH, Mayo Clinic, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the Office on Women’s Health.