Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a condition caused by a change in the balance of different kinds of bacteria in the vagina. When there are symptoms, they often appear as a form of vaginitis - an irritation of the vagina often associated with a vaginal discharge. BV is not always sexually transmitted. However, women who are sexually active run a high risk of developing the condition. Most women will get BV at some point in their reproductive years. BV can develop when an external factor, such as sexual contact, disrupts the balance between bacteria that protect the vagina from infection and those that don't.
BV is associated with premature delivery, low birth weight, and pelvic inflammatory disease. It can also increase the risk for HIV infection. Pregnant women with BV run higher risks of miscarriage, especially in the first trimester.
Strong, unpleasant vaginal odor
However, many women do not have any symptoms.
How BV is spread:
- Pelvic exam
- Examination of vaginal fluid
- Microscopic examination of vaginal tissue
Protection: Condoms offer good protection against BV