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.

What are signs and symptoms of bacterial vaginosis?

Many women with bacterial vaginosis have no signs or symptoms at all. When symptoms do occur, the most common include:

  1. An abnormal amount of vaginal discharge
  2. The vaginal discharge is thin and grayish white.
  3. Vaginal odor (foul-smelling or unpleasant fishy odor)
  4. The vaginal discharge and odor are often more noticeable after sexual intercourse.
  5. Pain with sexual intercourse or urination (rare symptoms).

Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis, if present, can occur any time in the menstrual cycle, including before, during, or after the menstrual period. The amount of vaginal discharge that is considered normal varies from woman to woman. Therefore, any degree of vaginal discharge that is abnormal for a particular woman should be evaluated.


Can you get bacterial vaginosis from a sexual partner?

The term "vaginosis" refers to a vaginal abnormality; therefore a male cannot "get" bacterial vaginosis. However, female sex partners of women with bacterial vaginosis may want to consider being evaluated because it can spread to female partners.

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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