What is Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)?

  • A common condition in women where the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina is disrupted and replaced by an overgrowth of certain bacteria
  • BV is not a sexually transmitted disease

How do you get BV?

  • Cause is not completely understood
  • Develops when there is an increase in certain bacteria normally found in the vagina

Some common activities or behaviors that disrupt the normal balance include:

  • New partners
  • Multiple partners
  • Periods that are heavy and long
  • Semen
  • Condom use
  • Certain lubricants or spermicides
  • Douching
  • Certain forms of birth control
  • You cannot get BV from toilet seats, bedding, swimming pools
  • Women who have never had sex may also be affected

Pregnancy Complications

  • Can put pregnant women at risk for a preterm delivery or low birth weight


  • Sometimes BV will clear up without treatment
  • Generally, male partners do not need to be treated
  • Treatment is important for pregnant women
  • Treated with antibiotics


  • Vaginal discharge that is usually white or gray
  • Fish-like odor noticed especially after intercourse
  • May have burning with urination or itching around the outside of the vagina
  • Most women report no signs or symptoms


  • Usually causes not complications
  • Associated with an increase in developing an infection after surgery such as a hysterectomy
  • Can increase susceptibility to other STDs such as herpes simplex, Chlamydia or gonorrhea
  • Can infect the uterus and fallopian tubes


  • Laboratory samples of the discharge are examined


  • The best way to prevent BV may vary from person to person
  • Abstinence since BV is known to be associated with new sex partners or multiple sex partners
  • Limit the number of sex partners
  • Do not douche
  • Use all medication as prescribed by your health care provider