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Bacterial Vaginosis

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 1, 2023.

Bacterial vaginosis is an infection in the vagina. It may cause vaginitis (irritation and inflammation of the vagina). The cause is not known. Bacteria normally found in the vagina are imbalanced. Your risk increases if you are sexually active, you use a douche, or you have an intrauterine device (IUD).

Female Reproductive System


Call your doctor or gynecologist if:

  • Your symptoms come back or do not improve with treatment.
  • You have vaginal bleeding that is not your monthly period.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Antibiotics are given to kill the bacteria. They may be given as a pill or a cream to put in your vagina.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell your provider if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Bacterial vaginosis and pregnancy:

If you have bacterial vaginosis during pregnancy, your baby may be born early or have a low birth weight. Your healthcare provider may recommend testing for bacterial vaginosis before or during your pregnancy. He or she will talk to you about your risk for premature delivery, and make sure you know the benefits and risks of testing.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

Prevent bacterial vaginosis:

  • Keep your vaginal area clean and dry. Wear underwear and pantyhose with a cotton crotch. Wipe from front to back after you urinate or have a bowel movement. After you bathe, rinse soap from your vaginal area to decrease your risk for irritation.
  • Do not use products that cause irritation. Always use unscented tampons or sanitary pads. Do not use feminine sprays, powders, or scented tampons. They may cause irritation and increase your risk for vaginosis. Detergents and fabric softeners may also cause irritation.
  • Do not use a douche. This can cause an imbalance in healthy vaginal bacteria.
  • Use latex condoms during sex. This helps prevent another infection and keeps your partner from getting the infection.

Follow up with your doctor or gynecologist as directed:

Bacterial vaginosis increases the risk for several health problems, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or sexually transmitted infections. Work with your healthcare providers to schedule regular appointments to check for health problems. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.