Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a mild infection in the vagina.
BV happens when there are more "bad" bacteria
than "good" bacteria in the vagina. BV is the most common vaginal infection
affecting young women.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis?
Many girls don't see any signs of BV. But those who do might notice:
a bad, fishy smell that's more noticeable during a girl's period
or after sex
Itching and burning are not common signs of bacterial vaginosis. If a girl has
those symptoms, the doctor will check for other conditions.
What Causes Bacterial Vaginosis?
A lot of good, healthy bacteria live in the vagina. They help protect the vagina
from bad bacteria that can cause symptoms such as smelly
discharge. Girls with BV have fewer good bacteria than usual, which lets more
bad bacteria grow. When the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina changes, a girl
can start to have symptoms of bacterial vaginosis.
Although doctors don't know for sure what causes BV, some things can make it more
likely, such as:
new sex partners or many different sex partners (male or female). BV isn't considered
a sexually transmitted disease
(STD). But the chances of getting it seem to go up with the number of sexual partners
a woman has.
Rarely, even girls who have never had sex can get BV. You can't get BV from things
like toilet seats, sheets and towels, or swimming pools.
How Is Bacterial Vaginosis Diagnosed?
The doctor or nurse will:
ask questions about your past health and your current symptoms
examine you. If you have a discharge that bothers you, the doctor might do a pelvic exam to look
inside the vagina.
collect a sample of vaginal fluid with a cotton swab to test in the office or
in a lab
How Is Bacterial Vaginosis Treated?
The usual treatment for BV is antibiotics. These come in two forms:
pills to swallow
creams or gels to put in the vagina using an applicator like a tampon
Because BV can come back, a girl may need to take more than one series of antibiotics.
Even if you feel better partway through taking the antibiotics, be sure to finish
the entire amount. That's the best way to kill the harmful bacteria.
Your doctor might talk about things to stay away from while you're on the antibiotic.
Infections like BV are one reason why girls who have sex need regular gyn
checkups and STD
tests, even if they don't have symptoms. Most girls with BV don't notice any symptoms,
so they might not know they have it and might not get treated.
BV may be mild, but must be treated to prevent other problems. Doctors and
can diagnose and treat BV to make sure you stay healthy.