Dermatology Information and Resources

Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial Vaginosis is a bacteria overgrowth in the vagina causing an imbalance of bacteria and vaginal inflammation.

Common Symptoms: Abnormal changes in vaginal discharge including frequency, color, and strong odor are key indicators of bacterial vaginosis. Noticing the appearance of white, gray, or green vaginal discharge along with a ‘fishy’ odor is common. A woman may also experience pain, itching, or a burning sensation in and around the vaginal area, or burning during urination.[1]

Causes: Women in their reproductive years and are sexually active are most likely to experience bacterial vaginosis, but women who have completed menopause can have it also. Bacterial vaginosis is not sexually transmitted and but can be triggered by sexual activity (particularly unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners.[2] Other factors such as douching, using lubricants, harsh soaps, latex condoms, adult toys and devices, and using feminine hygiene sprays have been shown to increase the risk.

Treatment: Bacterial vaginosis isn’t likely to cause serious complications but it is linked to a higher risk for pelvic inflammatory disease, urinary tract infections, and preterm births. Limiting or eliminating the use of feminine hygiene products and temporarily abstaining from sexual activity can help to restore proper bacteria balance. Bacterial vaginosis is likely to go away on its own when measures are taken, however pregnant women are encouraged to consult with a healthcare provider to keep the condition at bay to prevent preterm labor and other pregnancy complications. A healthcare provider can perform a vaginal fluid test to see whether BV is present and prescribe antibiotic treatment if necessary.

Bacterial vaginosis, is treated using one of the following medications:

  • Metronidazole (Flagyl, Metrogel-Vaginal, others)
  • Clindamycin (Cleocin, Clindesse, others)
  • Tinidazole (Tindamax)
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