What Is Bacterial Vaginosis?
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) occurs when one type of the healthy bacteria normally found in the vagina multiplies faster than usual. This bacterial overgrowth causes the vaginal environment to become out of balance, resulting in a range of unpleasant symptoms.
BV is a relatively mild condition, but, left untreated, it can cause serious reproductive health problems. Untreated BV can increase the chances of contracting a sexually transmitted disease, cause pelvic infection or inflammation, and lead to pregnancy complications, such miscarriage or premature labor.
While the exact cause of BV is unclear, it’s associated with risk factors, including:
- Feminine hygiene products — Douches and deodorants alter the vagina’s normal pH (acidity) level.
- Sexual activity — Although not considered a sexually transmitted disease, bacterial vaginosis is more common among sexually active women.
- Pregnancy — Hormonal changes influence the chemical makeup of the vagina.
Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis vary from woman to woman and may include:
- Discomfort — BV may cause pain and itching inside or around the vagina or a burning sensation during urination.
- Strong odor — Vaginal secretions may have a pungent fishy smell, especially after sexual intercourse or during menstruation.
- Unusual discharge — It may be thin, foamy, and/or white, gray or green in color.
Treatment seeks to stop the infection from spreading and restore the healthy balance of vaginal bacteria. Options include:
- Antibiotics — These medications, taken by mouth or applied to the affected area as gels or creams, kill bacteria.
- Abstinence — Avoiding sexual activity may help the infection clear up faster.
- Probiotics — If bacterial vaginosis returns repeatedly, taking probiotic (beneficial bacteria) supplements, such as Lactobacillus, may help maintain a healthy balance of vaginal bacteria and prevent BV recurrences.
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If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of bacterial vaginosis, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.
Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat bacterial vaginosis.