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Vaginal Infection: Bacterial VaginosisInfecci³n vaginal: Vaginosis bacteriana

Vaginal Infection: Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is due to an imbalance in the bacteria that are normally present in the vagina. The numbers of lactobacilli decrease and the numbers of certain other types of harmful bacteria increase. Cells on vaginal walls become covered with bacteria. These bacteria-covered cells are called clue cells. The cause of this is not clearly understood. Contributing factors may include douching, or increased frequency of intercourse.

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Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis

  • Thin, milky white or gray discharge

  • Unpleasant "fishy" odor

  • Irritation, itching, burning at opening of vagina (in some cases)

  • Burning or irritation with intercourse or urination (in some cases)

Treating Bacterial Vaginosis

BV is often treated with antibiotic pills. In some cases, a vaginal antibiotic cream is prescribed instead. During treatment:

  • Finish all of your medication, even if your symptoms go away.

  • If you are taking antibiotic pills, avoid alcohol until you're finished with all of your medication.

  • If you are using vaginal cream, apply it using the instructions on the prescription. Be aware that the cream may make condoms and diaphragms less effective.

  • Call your doctor if symptoms persist, or if you have an allergic reaction to the medication.

Why Treatment Matters

Even if you have no symptoms or your symptoms are mild, BV should be treated. Untreated BV can lead to medical problems such as:

  • Increased risk of preterm delivery if you are pregnant.

  • Increased risk of complications after surgery on the reproductive organs.

  • Possible increased risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

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