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Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is a condition in which there is an overgrowth of bacteria that are normally found in the vagina. BV may cause discharge, odor, pain, itching, or burning, but many women have no symptoms at all.

What causes bacterial vaginosis?

The cause of BV is not currently known. Most cases occur in sexually active women, but women who are not sexually active can also have BV. Women who douche or have an intrauterine device (IUD) are more likely to have BV. It is not considered a sexually transmitted infection.

What are the symptoms?

Many women with BV have no symptoms.
Women with BV may experience the following:

  • Gray or yellowish discharge that may have a fishy odor
  • Vaginal redness and irritation
  • Burning during urination
  • Itching on the vulva

How is bacterial vaginosis treated?

BV may clear up without treatment. It is often treated with the oral medication metronidazole or a vaginal antibiotic cream. Both medications are available by prescription only. Treating the partners of a person with BV has not been shown to reduce the rate of transmission, so it is generally not necessary. Treatment is especially important for pregnant women because BV can cause premature birth or low birth weight.