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Bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis: Introduction

Bacterial vaginosis is a common infection of the vagina and one of a variety of types of vaginitis. Bacterial vaginosis, also called BV, is caused by an overgrowth of one or more types of bacteria that normally live in the vagina in smaller numbers. The most common cause of bacterial vaginosis is an overgrowth of the gardnerella bacteria.

Bacterial vaginosis crowds out helpful, protective bacteria in the vagina and results in an abnormal balance of bacteria and other microorganisms. This can lead to such symptoms as vaginal irritation, vaginal itching and burning, and heavy vaginal discharge that has a fishy odor. Frequently, there may be no symptoms at all in bacterial vaginosis.

Bacterial vaginosis is generally not serious but if left untreated, it can lead to complications in some women. These include an increased risk of postoperative infection after vaginal or pelvic surgery. Bacterial vaginosis can also result in some complications of pregnancy and increase the susceptibility to HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases. For more information on complications and symptoms, refer to symptoms of bacterial vaginosis.

Bacterial vaginosis can occur in any female, but it happens most frequently to women during their reproductive years. Bacterial vaginosis is common in pregnant women. Women who are not sexually active can get bacterial vaginosis. However, being sexually active and having multiple sex partners increases the risk of developing bacterial vaginosis. Douching also increases the risk.

Making a diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis begins with taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination. This includes performing a pelvic exam in which the vagina is examined using a lighted instrument called a speculum. During the exam small samples are taken from the vagina and cervix for culture and sensitivity testing.

This test and various other tests on the vaginal samples are performed to determine if the cause of symptoms are due to gardnerella bacteria and bacterial vaginosis. This testing can also determine if symptoms are due to other causes of vaginitis, such as sexually transmitted diseases or a vaginal yeast infection. Sexually transmitted diseases that can have similar symptoms include trichomoniasis, chlamydia, gonorrhea and genital herpes.

An urinanalysis may also be performed. An urinanalysis can diagnose a urinary tract infection, which sometimes has some similar symptoms to those of bacterial vaginosis.

A diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis can easily be missed or delayed, because some women have no symptoms and for other reasons. For information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of bacterial vaginosis.

Treatment of bacterial vaginosis includes an oral antibiotic or antibiotic vaginal gel or cream. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of bacterial vaginosis. ...more »

Bacterial vaginosis: Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal infection in women of childbearing age, and it is sometimes accompanied by discharge, odor, pain, itching, or ... more about Bacterial vaginosis.

Bacterial vaginosis: Bacterial vaginal infection. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Bacterial vaginosis is available below.

Bacterial vaginosis: Symptoms

The symptoms of bacterial vaginosis result from the inflammation of the moist, sensitive mucosa that lines the vagina due to an overgrowth of certain bacteria that normally live in the vagina. Symptoms vary in character and intensity among individual women.

Many women may have no symptoms of bacterial vaginosis. When they do occur, symptoms may include vaginal and ...more symptoms »

Bacterial vaginosis: Treatments

The first step in treating bacterial vaginosis is prevention. Prevention measures include seeking regular medical care throughout a lifetime. Regular medical care allows a health care professional to test for bacterial vaginosis as needed, even if there are no symptoms. These measures greatly increase the chances of catching and treating bacterial vaginosis before ...more treatments »

Bacterial vaginosis: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis can easily be missed or delayed because frequently there are no symptoms and a woman may be unaware of the infection. Embarrassment and not being honest with a health care provider about specifics, such as sexual activity, an abnormal discharge from the vagina, or genital itching, can also delay a diagnosis.

Additionally, the ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Bacterial vaginosis

Treatments for Bacterial vaginosis

Home Diagnostic Testing

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Wrongly Diagnosed with Bacterial vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis: Related Patient Stories

Types of Bacterial vaginosis

  • Bacteroides bacteria
  • Gardnerella vaginalis bacteria
  • Gardnerella
  • Mobiluncus bacteria
  • Mycoplasma hominis bacteria
  • more types...»

Diagnostic Tests for Bacterial vaginosis

Test for Bacterial vaginosis in your own home

Click for Tests
  • Vaginal fluid tests
  • Litmus paper test of vaginal acidity
  • Microscopic examination of vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal discharge culture
  • more tests...»

Bacterial vaginosis: Complications

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Causes of Bacterial vaginosis

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Disease Topics Related To Bacterial vaginosis

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Bacterial vaginosis: Undiagnosed Conditions

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Misdiagnosis and Bacterial vaginosis

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Bacterial vaginosis: Research Doctors & Specialists

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Hospitals & Clinics: Bacterial vaginosis

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Choosing the Best Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to Bacterial vaginosis, on hospital performance and surgical care quality:

Bacterial vaginosis: Rare Types

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Latest Treatments for Bacterial vaginosis

Evidence Based Medicine Research for Bacterial vaginosis

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Research about Bacterial vaginosis

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Clinical Trials for Bacterial vaginosis

The US based website lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

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Statistics for Bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis: Broader Related Topics

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Article Excerpts about Bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV): DSTD (Excerpt)

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal infection in women of childbearing age, and it is sometimes accompanied by discharge, odor, pain, itching, or burning. (Source: excerpt from Bacterial Vaginosis (BV): DSTD)

Vaginitis Due to Vaginal Infections, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID (Excerpt)

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common cause of vaginitis symptoms among women of childbearing age. Previously called nonspecific vaginitis or Gardnerella-associated vaginitis, BV is associated with sexual activity. (Source: excerpt from Vaginitis Due to Vaginal Infections, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID)

Vaginal Infections & Vaginitis: NWHIC (Excerpt)

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common cause of vaginitis symptoms among women of childbearing age. BV (previously called nonspecific vaginitis) can be transmitted through sexual activity although the organisms responsible also have been found in young women who are not sexually active. (Source: excerpt from Vaginal Infections & Vaginitis: NWHIC)


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