Bacterial vaginosis is a mild infection of thevagina caused by bacteria. Normally, there are a lot of "good" bacteria and some "bad" bacteria in the vagina. The good types help control the growth of the bad types. In women with bacterial vaginosis, the balance is upset. There are not enough good bacteria and too many bad bacteria.
Bacterial vaginosis is usually a mild problem that may go away on its own in a few days. But it can lead to more serious problems. So it's a good idea to see your doctor and get treatment.
Experts are not sure what causes the bacteria in the vagina to get out of balance. But certain things make it more likely to happen. Your risk of getting bacterial vaginosis is higher if you:
You may be able to avoid bacterial vaginosis if you limit your number of sex partners and don't douche or smoke.
Bacterial vaginosis is more common in women who are sexually active. But it can occur if you are not sexually active as well.
The most common symptom is a smelly vaginal discharge. It may look grayish white or yellow. A sign of bacterial vaginosis can be a "fishy" smell, which may be worse after sex. About half of women who have bacterial vaginosis do not notice any symptoms.
Many things can cause abnormal vaginal discharge, including somesexually transmitted infections (STIs). See your doctor so you can be tested and get the right treatment.
Doctors diagnose bacterial vaginosis by asking about the symptoms, doing a pelvic exam, and taking a sample of the vaginal discharge. The sample can be tested to find out if you have bacterial vaginosis.
Bacterial vaginosis usually does not cause other health problems. But in some cases it can lead to serious problems.
Doctors usually prescribe an antibiotic to treat bacterial vaginosis. They come as pills you swallow or as a cream or capsules (called ovules) that you put in your vagina. If you are pregnant, you will need to take pills.
Bacterial vaginosis usually clears up in 2 or 3 days with antibiotics, but treatment goes on for 7 days. Do not stop using your medicine just because your symptoms are better. Be sure to take the full course ofantibiotics.
Antibiotics usually work well and have few side effects. But taking them can lead to a vaginal yeast infection. A yeast infection can causeitching, redness, and a lumpy, white discharge. If you have these symptoms, talk to your doctor about what to do.
Bacterial vaginosis is an infection of the vagina caused by bacteria. Normally, there are a lot of "good" bacteria and some "bad" bacteria in the vagina. The good types help control the growth of the bad types. With bacterial vaginosis, the balance is upset. There are not enough good bacteria and too many bad bacteria. This can cause a discharge from the vagina that may smell fishy.
Bacterial vaginosis is caused by an imbalance of the organisms (flora) that naturally exist in the vagina. Normally, about 95% of vaginal flora are lactobacillus bacteria. (These types are unique to humans, different from the lactobacillus in yogurt.) These lactobacilli help keep the vaginal pH level low and prevent overgrowth of other types of organisms. Women with bacterial vaginosis have fewer lactobacillus organisms than normal and more of other types of bacteria. Experts do not yet understand what causes this imbalance.
Although the specific cause isn't known, a number of health and lifestyle factors have been linked to bacterial vaginosis. For more information, see What Increases Your Risk.
Things that increase your risk of gettingbacterial vaginosis include:
Although bacterial vaginosis can be triggered by or get worse from sexual activity, it does not appear to be an infection that is passed from man to woman. So experts do not consider bacterial vaginosis to be a male-female sexually transmitted infection. Bacterial vaginosis may be passed from woman to woman during sexual contact.