Bacterial Vaginosis

What is bacterial vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginitis (BV) is a vaginal infection in women caused by an imbalance of the normal bacterial flora. It is the most common vaginal infection in women ages 15-44. BV is not thought to be a sexually transmitted infection, but it is more common in women who are sexually active. Douching also increases the risk for BV. One cannot, however, develop BV from toilet seats, bedding, or swimming pools.

Symptoms of BV:

  • Many women have no symptoms
  • Thin white or gray vaginal discharge
  • Fish-like odor, especially following sex
  • Burning with urination
  • Pelvic pain
  • Vaginal itching

How is BV diagnosed and treated?

BV is diagnosed with a combination of symptoms and a laboratory test looking at a small sample of vaginal fluid. If present, it can be treated with an antibiotic. It is possible, in some cases, for the bacteria to normalize without treatment. However, it is always a good idea to check with your healthcare provider to be sure, as untreated cases can increase the risk for STIs if exposed. Males who are exposed via sexual intercourse usually do not need to be treated.

What can I do to prevent BV?

While there is not a clear understanding of the etiology of BV, we do know that if you follow these basic steps your risk will be reduced:

  • BV is very rare in women who are not sexually active
  • For women who are sexually active, limiting the number of sex partners is important
  • No douching

If you have any concerns about symptoms you may be experiencing, please give us a call at the health center.