Mild infection of the vagina caused by bacteria. The vagina has a normal amount of “good” bacteria which helps control of the “bad” types of bacteria. In this condition, the balance is upset by having too much of the bad bacteria.

Many women do not manifest any symptoms but they may include:

  • An excessive grayish white vaginal discharge
  • “Fishy” odor, which is usually worse after sex (intercourse).

Some sexually transmitted infections (such as trichomoniasis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea) and vaginal yeast infection may have similar symptoms.


Physician may do/request:

  • History & Physical Exam
  • Wet mount
    • Microscopic analysis of vagincal discharge
    • Check for bacteria present, increase of white blood cells (indicative of an infection) and presence of abnormal clue cells
    • Presence of clue cells is a sign of bacterial vaginosis
  • Whiff test.
    • Several drops of a potassium hydroxide (KOH) solution are added to a sample of vaginal discharge to find out whether a strong fishy odor is produced which is suggestive of bacterial vaginosis
  • Vaginal pH
    • Normal vaginal pH is 3.8 to 4.5. A rise bove 4.5 is suggestive of Bacterial vaginosis
  • Oligonucleotide probes
    • Detects the genetic material (DNA) of bacterial vaginosis bacteria
    • Very accurate but is not routinely available in most labs.
  • Other instances for bacterial vaginosis testing
    • Before undergoing Hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus) or surgical abortion
  • Bacterial vaginosis may be found during a routine pelvic exam.



  • Antibiotics (may be given by mouth or vaginally)
    • Metronidazole
    • Clindamycin
    • Tinidazole
  • Oral medicine is usually prescribed for pregnant women
  • Ask your doctor whether you should:
    • Avoid having sex during treatment period
    • Continue treatment during your menstrual period
    • Avoid drinking alcohol during treatment with metronidazole or tinidazole
  • The oil in clindamycin cream and ovules can weaken latex and may cause condoms and diaphragms may break, and you may not be protected from STIs or pregnancy.

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