Bacterial vaginosis is an abnormal vaginal condition that is characterized by vaginal discharge resulting from an overgrowth of normal bacteria in the vagina. Although it may cause some disturbing symptoms (discharge and odor), it is not dangerous and cannot be passed by sex. Diagnosis becomes important to exclude serious infections like gonorrhea and Chlamydia. Many treatment options are available such as oral antibiotics and vaginal gels.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Bacterial vaginosis is an abnormal vaginal condition that is characterized
by vaginal discharge and results from an overgrowth of normal bacteria in the
Bacterial vaginosis is not dangerous, but it can cause disturbing symptoms.
Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis are vaginal discharge and
85% of women with the condition experience no symptoms.
In diagnosing bacterial vaginosis, it is important to exclude other
serious infections, such as gonorrhea and
Treatment options for bacterial vaginosis include oral antibiotics and
Serious complications of bacterial vaginosis can occur during pregnancy, and recurrence is possible even after successful treatment.
What is bacterial vaginosis?
Bacterial vaginosis is vaginal condition that can produce
vaginal discharge and results from an overgrowth of normal bacteria in the vagina. In the past, the condition was called
Gardnerellavaginitis, after the bacteria that were thought to cause the condition. However, the newer name, bacterial vaginosis, reflects the fact that there are a number of species of bacteria that naturally live in the vaginal area and may grow to excess. The Gardnerella organism is not the sole culprit causing the symptoms. When these multiple species of bacteria become imbalanced, a woman can have a vaginal discharge with a
Bacterial vaginosis is not dangerous, but it can cause disturbing symptoms. Any woman with an unusual discharge should be evaluated so that more serious infections
such as Chlamydia and
gonorrhea, can be excluded.
Symptoms may also mimic those found in
yeast infections of the
vagina and trichomoniasis (a
and these conditions must also be excluded in women with vaginal symptoms.
Bacterial vaginosis is a common condition. It is the most common vaginal
infection in women of child bearing age. Studies have shown that
approximately 29% of women in the U.S. are affected. Bacterial vaginosis is found
in about 16% of pregnant women in the U.S. and approximately 60% of women who have a
sexually-transmitted disease (STD).
Reviewed by William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR on 5/16/2012
Treatment for bacterial vaginosis consists of antibiotics. A few antibiotic
remedies are routinely used and include:
metronidazole(Flagyl) oral pill form or by vaginal
clindamycin cream(Cleocin), or
Recurrence of bacterial vaginosis is possible even after successful treatment. More than half of those treated experience recurrent symptoms within 12 months. It is unclear why so many recurrent infections develop. With recurrent symptoms, a second course of antibiotics is generally prescribed.