Bacterial Vaginosis

What Is Bacterial Vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis is an infection of the vagina. Females of any age can have it and you do not have to be sexually active to get bacterial vaginosis. This infection is not a sexually transmitted infection. It is an overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis?

Signs and symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include:

  • Foul/fishy odor which may seem worse around your period or having sex
  • Discharge that is white to gray in color
  • Itchiness or redness in the genital area
  • Pain with sex

What Are the Causes of Bacterial Vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis is more common in women who have sex with more than one person. It is more common in women who use vaginal douches or feminine hygiene products that disrupt the normal bacterial balance in the vagina. It is best to avoid soaps that are scented or colored. Instead, use a mild unscented soap. Since the exact causes are not known, there is not a specific way to prevent bacterial vaginosis.

How Is Bacterial Vaginosis Diagnosed and Treated?

To diagnose bacterial vaginosis your provider will insert a swab into your vagina. This swab is sent to the lab or it may be looked at under a microscope in the office.

You can treat bacterial vaginosis with antibiotics taken by mouth. Do not drink alcohol if you are treated for bacterial vaginosis. This may cause side effects like nausea and vomiting.

Your provider may also prescribe either a cream or gel insert into the vagina. If you are given this type of treatment don’t wear tampons as it may absorb the medicine and make it less effective.

Though bacterial vaginosis can be treated, it may come back again. If you experience symptoms again, contact your health care provider.