Introduction

Bacterial vaginosis is a common type of vaginal infection.  It results when there is an imbalance and overgrowth of the natural organisms within the vagina.  Bacterial vaginosis may produce a foul smelling vaginal discharge.  It is usually treated with over-the-counter or prescription medication.

Anatomy

The healthy vagina contains a normal balance of microorganisms, including the bacteria that causes bacterial vaginosis.

Causes

Bacterial vaginosis is a common type of vaginal infection.  It is caused by an imbalance and overgrowth of the natural organisms in the vagina.  It is not considered a sexually transmitted disease, but it may be spread between sexual partners.

Symptoms

Bacterial vaginosis may cause grayish-white vaginal discharge.  The discharge may have a foul smell, similar to fish.  You may experience vaginal irritation or itching.  Many women with bacterial vaginosis do not notice symptoms.

Diagnosis

Your doctor can diagnose bacterial vaginosis by reviewing your medical history and conducting a pelvic examination.  You doctor will test your vaginal discharge to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment

Bacterial vaginosis is treated with medication.  Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter medication.  Your doctor may prescribe medication in the form of pills, vaginal gel, or vaginal cream.

Prevention

You may prevent bacterial vaginosis by not douching.  If you are sexually active and use an IUD and experience recurrent bacterial vaginosis, you may have your IUD removed.

Am I at Risk

Bacterial vaginosis is common in pregnant women.  Women with multiple sex partners have a higher risk for bacterial vaginosis.  Douching or using an intrauterine device (IUD) increases the risk as well.