Bacterial Vaginosis: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Your body usually balances vaginal bacterial flora naturally. Bacterial vaginosis (BV) develops when certain bacteria overgrow or when the balance is upset. BV is a relatively common condition, especially in women of childbearing age. Although it presents with an array of unpleasant symptoms, it is curable. It is crucial to deal with BV as soon as it appears because the condition increases susceptibility to sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Rapid treatment also leads to fewer complications.

This guide will help you learn more about bacterial vaginosis and the symptoms you should look out for if you believe you may have BV.

What are the causes of BV?

The vagina houses both anaerobes (bad bacteria) and lactobacilli (good bacteria). The vagina is said to be healthy when the good bacteria outnumber the bad bacteria and keep its growth in check. BV develops when the bad bacteria begin increasing in numbers and start to outnumber good bacteria.

What are the symptoms of BV?

Some common symptoms of BV are:

  • Itching
  • Burning during micturition
  • Gray, green, or white thin vaginal discharge
  • An odor or a fishy smell that worsens after sex

A foul odor and discharge are the two most common symptoms of BV. However, many women do not experience any symptoms.

What are the risk factors for bacterial vaginosis?

The following people are at an increased risk of developing BV:

  • People with a new or multiple sex partners
  • People who have unprotected sex
  • People who use douches or vaginal washes
  • Pregnant women
  • People using an intrauterine device (IUD) for birth control

Any factor that upsets the normal balance in the vaginal flora increases the risk of developing BV.

What is the treatment of bacterial vaginosis?

Antibiotics such as metronidazole and clindamycin are the most common treatment for BV. Completing the prescribed course is crucial for the success of the treatment even if the symptoms disappear early. If you have completed the course and the symptoms are still present, talk to your healthcare provider.

Bacterial vaginosis can sometimes resolve without treatment. If it fails to clear on its own, make sure to consult a doctor.

Is there a way to of treating bacterial vaginosis naturally?

Bacterial vaginosis can sometimes be treated naturally be using boric acid vaginal suppositories for a few days.  These are safe and have been used for decades with high success rates. Additionally, taking vaginal probiotics can be a very beneficial way to keep your pH balanced and increasing the positive bacteria in your system.

What should you do if you suspect BV?

Keep in mind that BV is a fairly common condition, so you don’t need to panic. Consult your healthcare provider if you experience any symptoms of BV. A vaginal fluid sample may be used to determine the cause of your infection and to figure out if your symptoms are due to BV or other conditions. When the diagnosis is established, your doctor will advise you on appropriate treatment.

What are some likely complications of BV?

In untreated for a long time, bacterial vaginosis can cause the following complications:

  • Premature birth: pregnant women are at an increased risk of giving birth to low-birth-weight babies prematurely if they have bacterial vaginosis.
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs): this is a relatively common complication of BV as the infection itself increases the chances of developing STIs such as chlamydia, herpes, and HIV.
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID): Bacterial Vaginosis sometimes causes PID that affects the uterus and fallopian tubes and makes it difficult to get pregnant

Can you have sex if you have bacterial vaginosis?

Penetration can be painful if you have bacterial vaginosis. You may also experience worsening vaginal odor. Therefore, it is a good idea to avoid sex until the condition clears up.

Remember that bacterial vaginosis cannot be transmitted to men, but it can be transmitted to women by sharing toys, digital penetration, and directly touching the vulva.

If you suffer from BV, you should inform any sex partners with a vagina so that they can keep an eye out for symptoms or get tested.

Can BV be prevented?

Although you cannot prevent BV, you can reduce the risk of developing it by:

  • Avoiding douching. Douches and other vaginal washes/scented products disrupt the normal balance of the vaginal flora
  • Using protection during sex. Dental dams and condoms help prevent changes in the balance of normal vaginal bacteria.

Does bacterial vaginosis recur?

Bacterial vaginosis can sometimes recur within three to twelve months of the previous episode despite successful treatment. If it happens repeatedly, talk to your physician about probiotic therapy and extended-use antibiotics for the treatment of this condition.


Bacterial vaginosis occurs as a result of disruptions in the balance of normal vaginal flora. It is a fairly common condition. Although sometimes it can clear up on its own, at other times you may need prescription antibiotics. If you think you may have BV, talk to your physician.