Bacterial Vaginosis: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment & Complications

What is Bacterial Vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis is a bacterial infection of the vagina. It is caused when other strains of bacteria (Bacteroides, Gardnerella vaginalis, Mobiluncus, and Mycoplasma hominis are common varieties found with bacterial vaginosis) outnumber the "good" bacteria that normally reside in the vagina. Doctors aren't sure what causes bacterial vaginosis, but it appears to be linked to multiple sexual partners, changing sexual partners, and douching.


The exact method of transmission of bacterial vaginosis is unknown. It appears to have links to the following:

  • Change in sexual partners
  • Douching
  • IUD use
  • Multiple sexual partners

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How is Bacterial Vaginosis diagnosed?

In order to diagnose bacterial vaginosis, a physician will take a sample of vaginal fluid and look at it under a microscope. Both the presence of bacteria commonly associated with the condition and an absence of "good" bacteria are signs of bacterial vaginosis.

Mark Riegel, MD

Quick snapshot

Can it be cured?

Yes. Bacterial vaginosis is easily treated.

Type of Infection

Bacterial. Caused by various bacteria.

How is treated?

Antibiotics. Metronidazole or Clindamycin taken for 5 to 7 days.

Recovery Time

Upto 2 weeks. One to two weeks can be needed for symptoms to fully disappear.

Can I have sex?

No. Sex with female partners should be avoided to prevent spread of the infection.

Can I get re-infected?

Yes. Doctors are unsure of the precise cause of bacterial vaginosis.