Bacterial Vaginosis – Fact Sheet

All women are at risk of developing Bacterial Vaginosis. Getting this condition will increase your chances of contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD).

Bacterial Vaginosis Defined: Bacterial Vaginosis is a condition that occurs when there is an excess of certain bacteria in the vagina. This condition directly impacts the natural bacterial balance in the vagina.

How Widespread Is Bacterial Vaginosis?

The most common vaginal infection in women between 15 and 44 years of age is bacterial vaginosis.

What Causes Bacterial Vaginosis and How Does It Spread?

Scientists are still unaware of the exact cause of BV. The fact is that bacterial vaginosis occurs in sexually active women. BV is associated with an imbalance between “good” and “harmful” bacteria that populate a woman’s vagina. This bacterial imbalance can be linked to intercourse with a new partner or with multiple partners, as well as by douching. All these increase the risk for a woman to get bacterial vaginosis.

We are also unaware of how sex contributes to BV. There are no studies to evidence that treating a sex partner has a direct influence on the chances that the woman gets BV. However, women who suffer from BV have a higher risk of contracting various STDs.

BV is almost nonexistent in women who haven’t had sex and you cannot get BV from bed sheets, swimming pools, or toilet seats.

Is There A Way I Can Avoid Getting BV?

Although medical doctors don’t totally understand how this condition spreads, there are things you can do to minimize your risk of getting BV – refraining from having sex, limiting the number of your sex partners, and not douching.

I’ve Been Diagnosed While Pregnant. Will Bacterial Vaginosis Affect My Newborn Baby?

Pregnant women can get bacterial Vaginosis. Premature birth and low birth weight are among the most common risks of women suffering from BV. Treatment is particularly important for pregnant women.

What Are The Main Symptoms Of Bacterial Vaginosis?

In many women, the condition can be asymptomatic.

The most commonly encountered symptoms are:

  • A vaginal discharge, either gray or white
  • A strong fish-like odor that intensifies after sex
  • A burning sensation during urinating
  • Itches around the outer portion of the vagina

How Will My Doctor Determine Whether I Have Bacterial Vaginosis?

Your doctor will start by examining you for vaginal discharge. Laboratory tests on a sample of vaginal fluid can determine whether or not you have BV.

What Is The Treatment For Bacterial Vaginosis?

Sometimes, BV may go away without the need for any medication or treatment. However, you shouldn’t overlook your symptoms of BV, but rather seek for medical help. It is also essential to stick to the treatment and take all medicines as prescribed by your doctor. Sometimes, healthcare providers recommend antibiotics as the first treatment option. Nevertheless, BV may return even after such treatments. The correct treatment may lower your risk for some STDs.

Male sex partners of women diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis don’t usually require any treatment. Infected women can transmit the disease to their female sex partners.

What If I Don’t Seek Treatment?

BV can lead to some significant health risks.

Here are a few of them:

  • It increases your risk to get HIV if you have sex with an HIV infected partner
  • If you are HIV positive, you’ll have higher chances to pass it to your sex partners
  • If you have BV during pregnancy, you risk premature delivery of your baby

Suffering from BV increases your risks to get chlamydia, gonorrhea, or other STDs. These bacteria can also trigger pelvic inflammatory disease, making it difficult or even impossible for you to bear children.


STD information and referrals to STD Clinics


1-800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636)

TTY: 1-888-232-6348

CDC National Prevention Information Network (NPIN)

P.O. Box 6003

Rockville, MD 20849-6003


American Sexual Health Association (ASHA)

P. O. Box 13827

Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-3827


Content source: Division of STD Prevention, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


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