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|Synonyms||anerobic vaginositis, non-specific vaginitis, vaginal bacteriosis, Gardnerella vaginitis|
|Micrograph of bacterial vaginosis — cells of the cervix covered with rod-shaped bacteria, Gardnerella vaginalis (arrows).|
|Classification and external resources|
|Specialty||Gynecology, infectious disease|
|Patient UK||Bacterial vaginosis|
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a disease of the vagina caused by excessive growth of bacteria. Common symptoms include increased vaginal discharge that often smells like fish. The discharge is usually white or gray in color. Burning with urination may occur. Itching is uncommon. Occasionally, there may be no symptoms. Having BV approximately doubles the risk of infection by a number of other sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS. It also increases the risk of early delivery among pregnant women.
BV is caused by an imbalance of the naturally occurring bacteria in the vagina. There is a change in the most common type of bacteria and a hundred to thousandfold increase in total numbers of bacteria present. Typically, bacteria other than Lactobacilli become more common. Risk factors include douching, new or multiple sex partners, antibiotics, and using an intrauterine device, among others. However, it is not considered a sexually transmitted infection. Diagnosis is suspected based on the symptoms, and may be verified by testing the vaginal discharge and finding a higher than normal vaginal pH, and large numbers of bacteria. BV is often confused with a vaginal yeast infection or infection with Trichomonas.
Usually treatment is with an antibiotic, such as clindamycin or metronidazole. These medications may also be used in the second or third trimesters of pregnancy. However, the condition often recurs following treatment. Probiotics may help prevent re-occurrence. It is unclear if the use of probiotics or antibiotics affects pregnancy outcomes.
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