Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial Vaginosis is the most frequently occurring vaginal infection -- more common than yeast infection.
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What Is Bacterial Vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common vaginal infection that is not sexually transmitted but is frequently associated with sexual intercourse. Most women will get BV at some point during their reproductive years. BV is caused by an imbalance in the bacteria normally found in the vagina. It develops when there is a change in the environment of the vagina, such as following sexual contact. During pregnancy, BV can cause pregnancy loss, premature delivery, and low birth weights. BV also can increase a woman's susceptibility to gonorrhea and other sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

How Is It Spread?

Having a new sex partner or multiple sex partners, douching, or pregnancy can upset the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina and put you at increased risk of infection.

What Are Symptoms?

Many women have no symptoms or only mild symptoms. If symptoms are present, they may include abnormal vaginal discharge, vaginal odor, burning during urination, or itching around the outside of the vagina.

How Is It Diagnosed?

Visit your health-care provider or a family-planning clinic and ask to be tested.

How Is BV Treated?

BV can be treated with antimicrobial creams.

How Can I Protect Myself?

Use a latex condom correctly every time you have sex. Do not douche.

Information Resources

Related Fact Sheets


From the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association Copyright 2003. All rights reserved.



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