BV is a condition in which the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina is disrupted and replaced by an overgrowth of certain bacteria. It’s the most common vaginal infection, and the cause of BV is not fully understood. Having new or multiple sex partners and douching may increase the risk of developing BV, but any person with a vagina can get BV despite these factors.


Symptoms may include burning during urination, itching around the outside of the vagina, and/or abnormal discharge with an unpleasant or “fishy” odor. However, most people with BV don’t notice any symptoms. BV is diagnosed through an exam by a provider and/or lab tests using a sample of vaginal fluid.


BV is treated with antibiotics, and can reoccur after treatment. Because BV is not well understood, it is not known exactly how to avoid BV. Certain measures like limiting your number of sex partners, not douching, and using all medication prescribed for BV can help reduce the risk of upsetting the balance of bacteria. Cytolytic vaginosis is another condition which may present similarly to BV, and be treated.

Even if you have had BV in the past, you may need to be seen for another visit for a new infection to determine the cause of the symptoms and determine which treatment would work best for you.