Know the basics
What is bacterial vaginosis?
Traditionally, there are plenty of good bacteria and some bad bacteria in the vagina. When the normal balance of bacteria breaks down, the woman might be bacterial vaginosis. Having bacterial vaginosis can increase your chance of getting an STD.
How common is bacterial vaginosis?
This health condition is extremely common. It commonly affects more women ages of 15 to 44. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis?
The common symptoms of bacterial vaginosis are:
- Smelly, grayish white or yellow vaginal discharge;
- Fishy smell and being worse after sex;
- Itching vagina;
- Burning during urination.
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:
- You have vaginal discharge and associated with an odor or fever.
- You’ve had vaginal infections before, but the color and consistency of your discharge seem different this time.
- You have multiple sex partners or a recent new partner. Sometimes, many reasons cause abnormal vaginal discharge, including sexually transmitted infections (STIS).
- You try self-treatment for a yeast infection with an over-the-counter treatment and your symptoms persist.
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
Know the causes
What causes bacterial vaginosis?
Usually, “good” bacteria (lactobacilli) outnumber “bad” bacteria (anaerobes) and it remain a good condition to your vagina. But if there are too many anaerobic bacteria, they upset the natural balance of microorganisms in your vagina and cause bacterial vaginosis.
Know the risk factors
What increases my risk for bacterial vaginosis?
There are many risk factors for bacterial vaginosis, such as:
- Having multiple sex partners or a new sex partner.Although the link between sexual activity and bacterial vaginosis is inconclusive, but the condition occurs more often in women who have multiple sex partners or a new sex partner. Bacterial vaginosis also occurs more frequently in women who have sex with women.
- The practice of rinsing out your vagina with dirty water or a cleansing agent (douching) upsets the natural balance of your vagina.
- Natural lack of lactobacilli bacteria.If your natural vaginal environment doesn’t produce enough of the good lactobacilli bacteria, you’re more likely to develop bacterial vaginosis.
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is bacterial vaginosis diagnosed?
- Your doctor may ask questions about your medical history such as previous vaginal infections or sexually transmitted infections.
- Perform a pelvic exam.During a pelvic exam, your doctor visually examines your vagina for signs of infection and inserts two fingers into your vagina while pressing on your abdomen with the other hand to check your pelvic organs for signs that may indicate disease.
- Take a sample of vaginal secretions.Your doctor may examine the vaginal secretions under a microscope, looking for “clue cells,” vaginal cells covered with bacteria that are a sign of bacterial vaginosis.
- Test your vaginal pH.Your doctor may check the acidity of your vagina by placing a pH test strip in your vagina. A vaginal pH of 4.5 or higher is a sign of bacterial vaginosis.
How is bacterial vaginosis treated?
To treat bacterial vaginosis, your doctor may prescribe one of the following medications:
- Metronidazole (Flagyl, Metrogel-Vaginal, others).This medicine may be taken as a pill by mouth. Metronidazole is also available as a topical gel that you insert into your vagina.
- Clindamycin (Cleocin, Clindesse, others).This medicine is available as a cream that you insert into your vagina
- Tinidazole (Tindamax).This medication is taken orally.
Lifestyle changes & Home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage bacterial vaginosis?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with bacterial vaginosis:
- Minimize vaginal irritation. Use mild, nondeodorant soaps and unscented tampons or pads.
- Don’t douche. Since the vagina is self-cleaning, douching isn’t necessary.
- Avoid a sexually transmitted infection. Use a male latex condom, limit your number of sex partners or abstain from intercourse to minimize your risk of a sexually transmitted infection.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: October 5, 2016 | Last Modified: September 13, 2019
Bacterial vaginosis. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bacterial-vaginosis/symptoms-causes/dxc-20198414 . Accessed September 24, 2016.
Bacterial vaginosis. http://www.webmd.com/sexual-conditions/tc/bacterial-vaginosis-topic-overview#1. Accessed September 24, 2016.
Bacterial vaginosis. http://www.medicinenet.com/bacterial_vaginosis_causes_symptoms_treatment/article.htm. Accessed September 24, 2016.