Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria that are naturally present in the vagina. BV affects about 16 out of 100 pregnant woman. Doctors don’t know what causes BV. Bacterial vaginosis is sometimes called vaginitis. It appears to be more common in women who:
- Have new sex partners
- Have more than one sex partner
- Use an IUD for birth control
Some women with BV have a discharge from the vagina that smells fish-like. This discharge is usually white or gray. Women with BV may also have burning when they urinate or itching around the outside of the vagina. Some women have no symptoms at all.
Health care providers diagnose BV by examining the woman's vagina and by doing lab tests.
BV is treated with antibiotics.
What you can do
Tell your health care provider if you have:
- Vaginal discharge that smells bad
- Burning when you urinate
- Itching around your genital area
If your provider gives you antibiotics, be sure you take them as directed.
For more information
- CDC information line
In English and Spanish
TTY for the deaf and hard of hearing (888) 232-6348
- American Social Health Association