What you need to know about Bacterial Vaginosis

Sexual Health

What is Bacterial Vaginosis?

Bacterial Vaginosis is a common vaginal infection that can be transmitted during sex. Bacteria, although normally to be present in the body including the vagina, can become an issue is some bacteria like Bacterial Vaginosis becomes to dominate and replaces the good bacteria called vaginal lactobacilli bacteria. This can be sparked by over douching or having new or multiple sex partners.

It is not a true bacterial infection but rather an imbalance of the bacteria that are normally present in the vagina.

The vagina is full of bacteria. When everything is okay, it is mostly good bacteria. However bad bacteria can turn things upside down, causing Bacterial Vaginosis. This kind of problem usually occurs to women who have sex on a regular basis, and with different partners. Most times it is asymptomatic, and when it has symptoms, it is just a vaginal discharge with a particular smell. Sometimes it is so slight that women don’t notice it. The lightest problems disappear in few days without any treatment. Severe issues require a treatment that is given in the form of an antibiotic.

Bacterial vaginosis is seen a mild problem, which might go away on its own in a few days. However, this infection can lead to more serious complications and therefore it is best to consult with your doctor and get treatment.

Can it be transmitted?

The term vaginosis refers to a vaginal irregularity. For that reason a male cannot be infected by bacterial vaginosis. On the other hand, the female sex partners of women with bacterial vaginosis can be infected by their female partner. That is since bacterial vaginosis can be transmitted to their female partners.

It is not possible to contract bacterial vaginosis from hot tubs, toilet seats, touching contaminated objects, or swimming pools.


Bacterial vaginosis is not dangerous, but it can cause disturbing symptoms. And most women do not experience symptoms of bacterial vaginosis.

Females will notice a thin, almost milky discharge that can have a fishy smell. The odour will be more intense after sex. Other symptoms include:

  • Vaginal pain
  • Vaginal burning
  • Vaginal discharge that is cloudy, bloody, white, yellow, or green.

Some females, about 50% of them, might not even notice any symptoms at all. Still, it is best to be diagnosed correctly to make sure that you receive the correct treatment.

Sexual Health


The diagnosis for bacterial vaginosis will normally be done by a patient history and listing of symptoms. The doctor will also conduct a pelvic exam and during this exam will take a sample of the virginal discharge that will be sent to the laboratory for analysis. The laboratory will then confirm the presence of bacterial vaginosis or if it is negative.

Examining the vaginal discharge under the microscope can help distinguish bacterial vaginosis from infections such as vaginal yeast infection called Candidiasis and trichomoniasis. A sign of bacterial vaginosis under the microscope is a vaginal cell called a clue cell. Clue cells are vaginal cells covered with bacteria and are believed to be the most reliable diagnostic sign of bacterial vaginosis. Additionally to clue cells, women with bacterial vaginosis have fewer of the normal vaginal bacteria, called lactobacilli. A vaginal pH greater than 4.5 is also suggestive of bacterial vaginosis. Cultures of bacteria are generally not useful in establishing the diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis since it is caused by bacteria that are normally present in the vagina.

But when you doctor is testing for bacterial vaginosis, they will also run tests for other serious vaginal infections, such as the STDs gonorrhea and chlamydia to exclude them.

How is it treated?

A third of cases will resolve by themselves. However this is recommended that medical treatment be given if a patient is pregnant to avoid developing any complications.

Doctors usually prescribe an antibiotic to treat bacterial vaginosis. These antibiotics are available in pill, vaginal creams or a capsules that you put in your vagina. You will need to take the pill if you are pregnant, and take them orally.

Bacterial vaginosis may return. More than half of those treated experience recurrent symptoms within 12 months. It is unclear why so many recurrences develop. With recurrent symptoms, a second course of antibiotics is generally prescribed.


It is vital to understand that having bacterial vaginosis not only increases the risk of getting another STD or STI, but this infection is normally associated with pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID is an infection of the female reproductive organs, including the uterus and the fallopian tubes (which carry eggs to the uterus), and postoperative infections, which can lead to infertility and birth complications.