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Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial Vaginosis Quick Overview

  • Bacterial vaginosis is also known as nonspecific vaginitis. It results from an imbalance or overgrowth of bacteria normally present in the vagina, in contrast to an infection with foreign bacteria.
  • Gardnerella are one type of bacteria that have been implicated in the development of bacterial vaginosis.
  • Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include vaginal discharge and odor.
  • Antibiotics, either taken orally or applied to the vagina, are the treatment of choice for bacterial vaginosis.
  • Having multiple sex partners is a risk factor for developing bacterial vaginosis, although it is not considered to be a sexually-transmitted disease since it does occur in celibate women.
  • There are no effective home remedies to treat bacterial vaginosis, but the condition sometimes goes away on its own.

What is bacterial vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis is a vaginal condition that results from an overgrowth of normal bacteria in the vagina. The condition was formerly referred to as Gardnerella vaginitis, after the bacteria that were believed to cause the condition. However, since there are a number of species of bacteria that naturally live in the vagina and can grow to excess or imbalance to cause the condition, the name bacterial vaginosis is the preferred term. As a result of overgrowth of certain bacteria, a vaginal discharge may result.

What causes bacterial vaginosis?

The reasons for overgrowth of certain types of bacteria in the vagina or an imbalance in the growth of these bacteria are not fully understood. However, certain factors can increase a woman's risk of developing bacterial vaginosis, including:

  • having multiple sex partners,
  • having a female sex partner, and
  • tobacco smoking.

Vaginal douching also may increase the risk of developing bacterial vaginosis.

While the condition is more common in women with multiple sex partners, it is not believed to be contagious or entirely related to sexual activity since it is the result of overgrowth or imbalance in the bacteria normally present in the vagina. Moreover, women who have not had sexual activity can develop bacterial vaginosis.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/11/2016

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