Bacterial Vaginosis

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Bacterial Vaginosis Symptoms - Vaginal Discharge

If a vaginal discharge is accompanied by the following symptoms, they may be associated with another infection or disorder such as bacterial vaginosis, yeast infection, STD, menopause, and many others.

  • abnormal vaginal odor,
  • abnormal consistency of vaginal fluid,
  • vaginal pain,
  • vaginal discharge that is cloudy, bloody, white, yellow, or green, or
  • vaginal burning.

Bacterial vaginosis definition and facts

  • Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is an abnormal vaginal condition that is characterized by vaginal discharge and results from an overgrowth of atypical bacteria in the vagina. It is not a true bacterial infection but rather an imbalance of the bacteria that are normally present in the vagina.
  • Bacterial vaginosis is not dangerous, but it can cause disturbing symptoms.
  • Most women do not experience symptoms of bacterial vaginosis, but when they do they are:
  • In diagnosing bacterial vaginosis, it is important to exclude other serious vaginal infections, such as the STDs gonorrhea and Chlamydia.
  • Treatment options for relief of bacterial vaginosis include prescription oral antibiotics and vaginal gels. Metronidazole (Flagyl) is one option for treating bacterial vaginosis.
  • Serious complications of bacterial vaginosis can occur during pregnancy, and recurrence is possible even after successful treatment.

What is bacterial vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis also is referred to as nonspecific vaginitis, is a vaginal condition that can produce vaginal discharge and results from an overgrowth of certain kinds of bacteria in the vagina. In the past, the condition was called Gardnerella vaginitis, after the bacteria that were thought to cause the condition. However, the newer name, bacterial vaginosis, reflects the fact that there are a number of species of bacteria that naturally live in the vaginal area and may grow to excess, rather than a true infection with foreign bacteria, such as occurs with many sexually-transmitted disease (STDs).

The Gardnerella organism is not the sole type of bacteria causing the symptoms. Other kinds of bacteria that can be involved in bacterial vaginosis are Lactobacillus, Bacteroides, Peptostreptococcus, Fusobacterium, Eubacterium, as well as a number of other types. When these multiple species of bacteria that normally reside in the vagina become unbalanced, a woman can have a vaginal discharge with a foul odor.

Reviewed on 10/25/2016
References
REFERENCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Bacterial Vaginosis."
<http://www.cdc.gov/std/bv/>

Gired, P. H., MD. "Bacterial Vaginosis." Medscape. Mar 27, 2015.
<http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/254342-overview>

Gor, H. B., MD. "Vaginitis." Medscape. Nov 03, 2015.
<http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/257141-overview>

Gired, P.H., MD. "Bacterial vaginosis." Medscape. Updated Nov 15, 2015
<http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/254342-overview>

WomensHealth.gov. "Bacterial Vaginosis." Nov 19, 2014.
<http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/bacterial-vaginosis.html>

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