Doctor's Notes on Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a condition that affects the vagina, caused by an overgrowth of atypical bacteria in the vagina. It does not represent a true bacterial infection but rather an imbalance of the bacteria that are normally present in the vagina. There are many different types of bacteria involved in bacterial vaginosis. It is not considered to be a sexually transmitted disease like bacterial infections such as gonorrhea or Chlamydia.
Bacterial vaginosis does not always produce characteristic symptoms or signs. When symptoms and signs do occur, they can include an abnormal vaginal discharge that is thin and whitish gray in color. Associated symptoms can also include a foul-smelling vaginal odor. The discharge and odor are often more noticeable after sexual intercourse.
What Is the Treatment for Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)?
The treatment of BV includes the following antibiotics that may come as pills, creams, gels, or in granules:
Usually, only one antibiotic is used at a time. Some antibiotic creams may weaken latex condoms. Avoid condom use for about 3 days after stopping antibiotic cream use. Although BV is not considered to be a sexual transmitted infection, it is possible to transmit BV to others. In general, it is not necessary to treat the woman's sexual partner.
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Painful Intercourse (Sex)Painful intercourse or sex (dyspareunia) is pain or discomfort in a woman's labial, vaginal, or pelvic areas during or after sexual intercourse. Pain during sex can be caused by endometriosis, vaginal changes that occur during menopause, infections, and uterine fibroids or growths. The pain may be upon entry to the vagina; deep or cramping pain, and muscle spasms or tightness. Treatment for pain during intercourse is directed at the cause.
Vaginal DischargeVaginal discharge is a fluid or semisolid substance that is normal and helps keep the vagina clean. Normal vaginal discharge is clear or milky white and does not have an unpleasant odor. Bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including trichomonas, gonorrhea, or Chlamydia can cause a change in color or odor. Symptoms of infection may include yellow-green or gray discharge, strong odor, or irritation of the genitals. Treatment depends on the infection.
Vaginal InfectionsVaginal infections, or vaginitis, describe the most common medical concerns women have in the area of their reproductive organs. Vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina that creates discharge, odor, and other symptoms.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.