Go to Content Go to Navigation Go to Navigation Go to Site Search Homepage

Bacterial Vaginosis

  • very common
  • easily treated
  • needs to be diagnosed by a health care professional

What is Bacterial Vaginosis?

There are many different kinds of bacteria growing in your vagina. These bacteria are completely normal and actually serve to protect the vagina. However, bacterial vaginosis (BV) is caused by an imbalance of these different kinds of bacteria. The most common is an overgrowth of gardnerella vaginalis.

BV is the most common vaginal infection in women of childbearing age. BV is also very common in pregnant women. This can be dangerous because BV during pregnancy has been linked to higher rates of miscarriage (particularly in the first trimester). BV is also associated with premature delivery, low birth weight, and pelvic inflammatory disease. For all these reasons, it is important to talk with a health care professional if you think you may have BV. You can get tested for BV at your local Planned Parenthood health center.

What are the symptoms of BV?

Sometimes BV has no symptoms at all. Other times, symptoms may include:

  • thick, frothy discharge that is usually white or grey
  • a strong fishy smell, especially after sex
  • itching, burning, or other pain
What Are the Treatments for BV?

BV can be treated with antibiotics prescribed by your health care provider. These antibiotics are an easy and painless way to treat BV.

Although BV can go away on its own, treatment is important because having BV can increase your susceptibility to:

  • HIV infection
  • Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV)
  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea

Treatment is also particularly important for pregnant women to avoid complications during pregnancy.

What You Can Do

Learn More

Bacterial vaginosis isn’t a sexually transmitted infection. But having sex with a new partner, or multiple partners, may increase your risk for BV.

Make an Appointment

If you think you might have Bacterial Vaginosis (BV), make an appointment at your local Planned Parenthood health center to get examined and treated so you can get back to your normal and healthy life.

Need Insurance?

Planned Parenthood provides high-quality care — whether you have insurance or not. If you don't have insurance, then Planned Parenthood offers one-on-one help with enrollment.