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Bacterial Vaginitis

What is bacterial vaginitis?

Bacterial vaginitis, also called bacterial vaginosis, is an infection of the vagina caused by bacteria. It is caused by an imbalance or overgrowth of the natural vaginal bacteria. This condition is more common in sexually active women. The most common symptom is a vaginal discharge which is gray, frothy and which smells unpleasant. Treatment with a short course of antibiotics can cure this condition, and most people have no ongoing problems.


Bacterial vaginitis can occur when the natural vaginal bacteria distribution becomes unbalanced. Women who have an intrauterine device (a uterine coil), who have recently used antibiotics, who have a new sexual partner or increased number of sexual partners or who are douching their vagina may have an increased risk to develop bacterial vaginitis. It is most common in adult women.


The most common symptom is a gray, frothy and unpleasant smelling vaginal discharge. This tends to be more than the normal vaginal discharge. Some women may develop itch and swelling of the vulva, pain while urinating or pain during sexual intercourse.


Diagnosis usually is made based on the symptoms, a gynecological examination and, in some cases, a by investigating a sample of the vaginal discharge for unusual bacteria.


Treatment is a short course of antibiotics tablets. There are also antibiotics in gel form that can be put into the vagina.


Avoiding the usage of vaginal douches, scents or deodorant may help to prevent some people from developing bacterial vaginitis.

Other names for bacterial vaginitis

  • bacterial colpitis
  • bacterial vaginosis
  • bacterial vulvovaginitis