©2018 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved. eMedicineHealth does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See Additional Information.

Symptoms and Signs of Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, and Cure

Doctor's Notes on Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, and Cure

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 do occur, they can include an abnormal vaginal discharge that is thin and gray-white in color. Associated symptoms can also include a foul-smelling vaginal odor. The discharge and odor are often more noticeable after sexual intercourse.

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, and Cure Symptoms

Vaginal discharge, often with a foul-smelling odor, is typically the only symptom of bacterial vaginosis. The discharge has been described a thin and gray to white in color. It is difficult to determine how much discharge represents an abnormal amount, since all women can have varying amounts of vaginal discharge. In general, any discharge that is in excess of normal for a particular woman can be regarded as abnormal. Many women with bacterial vaginosis have no symptoms at all.

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, and Cure Causes

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.

Women’s Health 13 Hormone Imbalance Symptoms and Signs Slideshow

Women’s Health 13 Hormone Imbalance Symptoms and Signs Slideshow

Bloating, fatigue, irritability, hair loss, palpitations, mood swings, problems with blood sugar, trouble concentrating, infertility -- these are just a few symptoms of hormone imbalance. These compounds affect every cell and system in the body. Hormone imbalance can debilitate you. Some hormonal shifts are normal, like monthly fluctuations responsible for menstruation and ovulation or the changes that occur during pregnancy. Menopause is another time for a normal hormonal shift in a woman's life. Other times these fluctuations may be due to a medication or a medical condition.

Cortisol is an important hormone that may become imbalanced with stress or illness. Low intensity exercise can help lower elevated cortisol levels. Stress impacts adrenal function and hormone levels. Get acquainted with hormone imbalance symptoms and signs so you can notice when things in your body and mind don't seem right.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.