Bacterial vaginosis is a type of vaginal inflammation that results from the overgrowth of one of several types of bacteria normally present in the vagina, upsetting the natural balance of vaginal bacteria.
Women in their reproductive years are most commonly affected by bacterial vaginosis, but any woman can experience the condition. Doctors don't know exactly why bacterial vaginosis develops, but certain activities, such as unprotected sexual intercourse or frequent douching, put you at higher risk of the condition.
Bacterial vaginosis signs and symptoms may include:
Often, you may have bacterial vaginosis and be asymptomatic — showing no signs and experiencing no symptoms.
When to see a doctor
Bacterial vaginosis results from an overgrowth of one of several organisms normally present in your vagina. Usually, "good" bacteria (lactobacilli) outnumber "bad" bacteria (anaerobes) in your vagina. But if anaerobic bacteria become too numerous, they upset the natural balance of microorganisms in your vagina and bacterial vaginosis results.
Bacterial vaginosis can spread during sexual intercourse, but it also occurs in people who aren't sexually active.
Risk factors for bacterial vaginosis include:
Generally, bacterial vaginosis doesn't cause complications. But under certain circumstances, having bacterial vaginosis may lead to:
Preparing for your appointment
If you've been treated for bacterial vaginosis in the past, your doctor may not need to see you and may prescribe a treatment over the phone. Otherwise, you'll likely see your family doctor or gynecologist to treat your condition.
What you can do
Also make a list of medications or supplements you're taking and any allergies you have. Write down questions to ask your doctor. Some basic questions include:
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment if you don't understand something.
Questions your doctor may ask
Tests and diagnosis
To diagnose bacterial vaginosis, your doctor may:
Treatments and drugs
To treat bacterial vaginosis, your doctor may prescribe one of the following medications:
Take your medicine or use the cream or gel for as long as your doctor prescribes it — even if your symptoms go away. Stopping treatment early may increase the likelihood of recurrence.
To help prevent bacterial vaginosis:
Last Updated: 2010-09-15
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