Symptoms and Signs of Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 2/1/2022

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.


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