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Bacterial Vaginosis

Having some bacteria in the vagina is perfectly normal. Bacterial vaginosis, however, occurs when bacteria start to overgrow. This sometimes causes symptoms such as vaginal itchiness and odor.

Bacterial vaginosis: what you should know

  • A yeast infection is not the same as bacterial vaginosis. It has a different cause and different treatment.
  • Any woman can develop bacterial vaginosis. You don’t have to have sex to get it. Your risk for bacterial vaginosis, however, increases with the more sexual partners you have. Douching may also cause bacteria to grow out of control and promote a bacterial vaginosis infection.
  • Bacterial vaginosis is often diagnosed during pregnancy.
  • Having bacterial vaginosis puts you at greater risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease (STD), such as HIV and genital herpes.

How can I get help for bacterial vaginosis?

Call your primary care doctor or OB-GYN if you have any of the following:

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge (white or gray; it can be thin)
  • Fishlike odor that becomes stronger after sex
  • Itchiness in or around your vagina

You should also call if your doctor if you are pregnant and think you may have bacterial vaginosis.

Care for bacterial vaginosis at Rush

To see if you have bacterial vaginosis, your primary care doctor or OB-GYN will examine your vagina and test a sample of your vaginal fluid. If you have the infection, it may go away on its own or you may need antibiotics. For more complex problems, your doctor may recommend you see a specialist.

Why choose Rush for bacterial vaginosis care

  • Primary care doctors at Rush, including OB-GYNs, can successfully treat bacterial vaginosis. These doctors are closely connected to specialists at Rush who can help address conditions that arise from your bacterial vaginosis diagnosis.
  • Maternal-fetal medicine specialists at Rush have expertise in caring for pregnant women facing high-risk pregnancies, including women with bacterial vaginosis.

Departments and programs that treat this condition