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What is bacterial vaginosis and how to treat it

Bacterial vaginosis is a vaginal infection caused by the presence of excess bacteria, especially Gardnerella vaginalis and Gardnerella mobiluncos, in the vaginal canal, causing symptoms such as intense itching, burning or discomfort when urinating, foul smell and white pasty discharge, which may also be yellowish or gray. 

This infection is not considered an STD because it is caused by changes to vaginal flora. When this happens there is a decrease in the concentration of lactobacilli and a predominance of one bacteria species over the others.

Although it can cause a lot of discomfort, vaginosis can be easily treated with the use of antibiotics and so it is very important to go to the gynecologist to identify the problem and start the appropriate treatment as soon as possible. The symptoms of vaginosis are very similar to candidiasis, so it is also important to assess whether the infection is being caused by bacteria or fungi, because the treatment is different. 

What is bacterial vaginosis and how to treat it

How to confirm the diagnosis

Bacterial vaginosis is usually diagnosed during a routine and preventive examination, also called a pap smear, or if you present symptoms your gynecologist may request the test. However, you may have vaginosis but have no symptoms, and you only find in the gynecologist's office, especially in cases of vaginal yeast infections. Find out more about other problems that may cause white vaginal discharge.

The criteria for the diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis are the inclusion of any of the following conditions: large amount of homogeneous white vaginal discharge; vaginal secretion with pH> 4.5; fish scent by mixing the vaginal secretion with 10% KOH solution or microscopic demonstration of the micro-organisms causing the infection.


Treatment for bacterial vaginosis is usually done with the use of antibiotics, such as metronidazole, which can be applied directly to the area in the form of ointments, vaginal suppositories or oral pills.

The use of antibiotics should be done for 7 days or as directed by the gynecologist and should not be interrupted just because symptoms improved. During the treatment it is recommended you use a condom in all intimate contact and to avoid the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

How to avoid

To prevent the onset of bacterial vaginosis it is recommended you avoid vaginal showers,use a condom in all intimate contact, restrict the number of partners and to do at least once a year a gynecological appointment and routine tests.

Risks of bacterial vaginosis

In most cases, bacterial vaginosis does not cause great complications, but if you have a weakened immune system it may:

  • Infect your uterus and fallopian tubes, generating a pelvic inflammatory disease, also known as PID;
  • Increase the likelihood of infection by AIDS in cases of exposure to the virus;
  • Increase the chances of a you being infected by other sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea.

If you are pregnant, this type of infection may also increase the risk of preterm labor or the birth weight of your newborn.

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