(BV) is a condition characterized by an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the vagina. This infection often causes a fishy-smelling vaginal discharge, and sometimes causes other symptoms such as itching and burning. A healthcare provider must examine the vagina for signs of BV. Once the diagnosis is confirmed with lab tests, the condition is usually treated with antibiotics.
The main cause of this condition is an imbalance in the bacteria that are normally present in the vagina. Factors that can contribute to this condition include:
- Having multiple sex partners
- Your partner not using a condom during sex
- Using an intrauterine device (IUD).
These factors, although not true causes of BV on their own, can make a woman more likely to develop the disease.
Of the different BV symptoms, the symptom women report most commonly is an abnormal, fishy-smelling vaginal discharge. This can be white or gray in color and may be worse after sexual intercourse. Another common symptom is pain during urination or itching around the vagina. Not all women have symptoms of BV, so diagnosing it requires a physical exam and possibly lab tests.
(For a more detailed look at this topic, click BV Symptoms.)
BV presents special risks for women who are pregnant. If you are pregnant, be sure to see a doctor right away if you notice the possible symptoms of bacterial vaginosis (see BV and Pregnancy)