Bacterial Vaginitis

What is Bacterial Vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common vaginal infection that is caused by an overgrowth of certain types of bacteria in the vagina. It is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI). BV is characterized by a watery discharge, itching, and a foul-smelling vaginal odor. It is usually treated with antibiotics.

Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis

The most common symptom of BV is a foul-smelling, thin, gray or white discharge. Other symptoms can include itching, burning during urination, and pain during sexual intercourse.

Causes of Bacterial Vaginosis

BV is caused by an imbalance of the normal bacteria that normally live in the vagina. Some factors that can increase the risk of developing BV include:

  • Douching
  • Unprotected sexual activity
  • Frequent changes of sexual partners
  • Using scented soaps or bubble baths
  • Smoking

Diagnosis of Bacterial Vaginosis

BV can be diagnosed by a doctor through a physical exam, laboratory testing, or a sample of the discharge. The doctor may also order a test to check for STIs.

Treatment for Bacterial Vaginosis

BV is usually treated with antibiotics, such as metronidazole or clindamycin. These medications are taken either orally or applied directly to the vagina as a cream or gel. It is important to take all of the medication as prescribed by your doctor, even if the symptoms improve before completing the course of treatment.