Women's Health

Women's Health

Bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis is the most common vaginal infection in women of childbearing age. It’s a mild infection that can occur when the “bad” bacteria in the vagina outnumber the “good” bacteria that help control infection. Bacterial vaginosis is not considered a sexually transmitted infection. Although it occurs mostly in women who are sexually active, it also occurs in women who are not having sex. It often goes away on its own and doesn’t affect your health. However, it can lead to serious problems including miscarriage and pelvic infections.

Causes of bacterial vaginosis

No one really knows what causes the “good” and “bad” bacteria in the vagina to get out of balance, but the risk of this infection can increase if you:

  • Have more than one sex partner
  • Have sex with a new partner
  • Douche
  • Smoke

Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis

The most common symptom is a “fishy” smelling vaginal discharge that may be worse after sex, although a vaginal discharge can also indicate other conditions including a sexually transmitted infection. Many women who have bacterial vaginosis do not have any symptoms.

Diagnosing bacterial vaginosis

Doctors usually diagnose bacterial vaginosis by doing a pelvic exam and testing a sample of the vaginal discharge.

Treating bacterial vaginosis

Antibiotics are usually prescribed for bacterial vaginosis. Although antibiotics will usually clear up the infection in 2 to 3 days, it’s important to take the full course of antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor.