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Signs and symptoms

  • Some women do not have symptoms.
  • Unpleasant vaginal odor
  • Abnormal discharge from the vagina, usually a white or gray color


  • BV occurs when there is a disturbance in the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina. Why this happens is not known. You are more likely to get BV if you:
  • Have a new sex partner or multiple sex partners
  • Do not use condoms with vaginal sex
  • Douche


  • Abstain from vaginal sex.
  • Use condoms or barriers consistently and correctly during vaginal sex.
  • Limit number of sex partners.
  • Do not douche.


  • See a health care provider for an exam and tests to figure out diagnosis and best treatment.
  • Treatment is medicines (antibiotics) prescribed by a health care provider.
  • Male partners do not need to be treated.
  • BV often comes back after treatment.
  • Consistent condom use may decrease how often BV comes back.

If not treated...

  • Continued symptoms
  • May increase risk for getting HIV and other STDs
  • During pregnancy: Premature delivery

If you have BV...

  • Seek medical care, including STD tests.
  • Take all medicines prescribed, even after your symptoms go away.
  • Limit number of sex partners and use condoms correctly to prevent BV from coming back.