Bacterial Vaginosis (Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment Options)

Bacterial Vaginosis (Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment Options)

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common vaginal infection that affects many women. While it is not a serious condition, it can cause discomfort and can increase the risk of complications. In this article, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for bacterial vaginosis.


Causes of Bacterial Vaginosis

The exact cause of bacterial vaginosis is not fully understood, but it is thought to be caused by an imbalance in the natural bacteria present in the vagina. The vagina normally contains a balance of different types of bacteria, including Lactobacillus species, which produce lactic acid to keep the vagina at a slightly acidic ph. This helps to prevent the overgrowth of harmful bacteria. When this balance is disrupted, harmful bacteria, such as Gardnerella vaginalis, can overgrow, leading to bacterial vaginosis. Certain factors can increase the risk of developing BV, including having multiple sexual partners, douching, using certain antibiotics or hygiene products, and having an intrauterine device (IUD) for birth control.


Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis

The most common symptom of bacterial vaginosis is an unusual vaginal discharge. This discharge may be thin, gray, or white, and may have a fishy odor. Other symptoms may include itching, burning, or irritation in the vaginal area, as well as pain or discomfort during sex. It is important to note that not all women with bacterial vaginosis experience symptoms. Up to 50% of women with BV may have no symptoms at all.


Diagnosis of Bacterial Vaginosis

A diagnosis of BV can be made by a healthcare provider, such as a gynecologist or primary care physician. Bacterial vaginosis is typically diagnosed through a physical exam and a laboratory test of vaginal discharge. During the physical exam, the healthcare provider may take a sample of vaginal discharge for examination under a microscope or send it to a laboratory for analysis. The laboratory test can determine whether BV is present by looking for an increased number of certain bacteria, such as Gardnerella vaginalis. It is important to seek medical attention if you suspect you may have BV, as untreated infections can lead to more serious health problems.


Treatment of Bacterial Vaginosis

The treatment for bacterial vaginosis usually involves antibiotics, either as an oral medication or as a vaginal cream or gel. The type of antibiotic prescribed will depend on the severity of the infection and other individual factors. It is important to complete the full course of treatment to ensure that the infection is fully cured. In addition to antibiotics, some women may benefit from probiotics, which can help to restore the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina. Probiotics are available as supplements or in certain foods, such as yogurt and kefir.


Prevention of Bacterial Vaginosis

There are several things that women can do to help prevent bacterial vaginosis. These include avoiding douching, which can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina, using condoms during sexual activity, which can help to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections, avoiding multiple sexual partners, and avoiding the use of perfumed hygiene products, such as soaps and bubble baths, which can irritate the vagina.


BV Can Resolve Without Treatment

In some cases, bacterial vaginosis (BV) can go away on its own without treatment. This may happen if the bacterial imbalance that caused BV resolves naturally, such as after a menstrual period or after sexual activity with a new partner. However, in many cases, BV requires medical treatment to clear up. It’s important to note that leaving BV untreated can lead to complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), an increased risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and preterm labor and delivery in pregnant women. Therefore, it is recommended to see a healthcare provider if you suspect you have BV. They can diagnose BV and provide appropriate treatment if necessary.


How long does the bacterial vaginosis last?

The duration of bacterial vaginosis (BV) can vary from person to person, and it can also depend on whether treatment is sought or not. If left untreated, BV can persist for weeks to months, or even longer. In some cases, BV can resolve on its own, but this may take several weeks to months. Whereas, with appropriate medical treatment, BV can usually be resolved within a week. The most prescribed treatments for BV include antibiotics, the medications can be taken orally or applied directly to the vagina in the form of creams, gels, or suppositories.


Is bacterial vaginosis contagious?

Bacterial vaginosis is not typically considered a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and is not contagious in the same way as an STI. However, sexual activity can contribute to the development or recurrence of BV. While BV is not considered contagious, sexual activity can potentially introduce new bacteria into the vaginal ecosystem, disrupt the balance of bacteria, and increase the risk of developing BV or experiencing a recurrence of the condition. It is important to note that anyone with a vagina can develop BV, regardless of sexual activity. BV is also not a sign of poor hygiene and is not caused by poor hygiene practices. If you are experiencing symptoms of BV, such as unusual discharge, odor, or itching, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider for diagnosis and treatment. Also, it is important to complete the full course of antibiotics as prescribed, even if symptoms improve or disappear before the medication is finished. Failure to complete the full course of antibiotics can lead to the recurrence of BV or the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.



Bacterial vaginosis is a common vaginal infection that can cause discomfort and increase the risk of complications. While it is not a serious condition, it is important to seek medical attention if you suspect you may have BV. The BV treatment usually involves antibiotics, but prevention is key to avoiding the recurrence of the infection. Women can help prevent bacterial vaginosis by practicing good hygiene and avoiding behaviors that increase the risk of infection. If you are suffering from previous symptoms, you can visit our clinic to receive medical help. you can scheduel an appointment by clicking on the button below .

Dr. Adeeb AlShahrour
Dr. Adeeb AlShahrour

Dr. Alshahrour is a highly skilled obstetrician and gynecologist who provides compassionate care to women of all ages. He has years of experience in the field, and is dedicated to helping his patients achieve the best possible health outcomes.