ID: 245
Category: Obstetrics and Gynecology
CreatedBy: 1
UpdatedBy: 1
createdon: 14 Jul 2017
updatedon: 26 May 2023

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Author: Khoa Tran
Published Jul 14, 2017
Updated May 26, 2023

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Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)

Etymology and Pronunciation

Vaginosis (vaj-uh-noh-sis)
vagina - Latin for "sheath" or "scabbard". Refers to he passage leading from the opening of the vulva to the cervix of the uterus in female mammals.
-osis - Greek suffix for "pathological" or "abnormal condition".

History of Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)

Bacterial Vaginosis, commonly known as BV, was first discovered in the 19th century by researchers who were studying the bacterial makeup of the vaginal environment. However, it wasn't until the 1950s that researchers were able to identify the specific bacteria that are responsible for BV.

The technology that made this discovery possible was the use of high-powered microscopes and bacterial culture techniques. These tools allowed researchers to accurately observe and identify the specific bacteria responsible for BV, which include Gardnerella vaginalis, Atopobium vaginae, and Prevotella species.

In addition to these tools, the development of DNA sequencing technology has also been instrumental in helping us better understand the bacterial makeup of the vaginal environment and how it relates to BV. This technology allows scientists to analyze the genetic material of bacteria in much greater detail, which provides insight into their functions and behavior.

Modern Understanding of Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is a condition that affects many women. It's a type of vaginal infection that is caused by too much bacteria growing in the vagina. BV can cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms, such as itching, burning, and a bad odor.

One of the more common symptoms of BV is a thin, white or grayish discharge. This can often be accompanied by an unpleasant fishy smell, especially after sex. Women with BV might also experience pain or discomfort during sex, and some may have pain or burning when they urinate.

Although most women who have BV don't experience serious health problems, there are some risks associated with the condition. For example, women with BV may have an increased risk of developing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can affect fertility.

Despite the inconvenience and discomfort caused by BV, there are steps that women can take to reduce their risk of developing this condition. Some of these steps include maintaining good hygiene by washing the genital area with a mild soap and water, avoiding fragrance products, and avoiding douching. Additionally, wearing cotton underwear and avoiding tight pants or leggings can also help prevent BV.

Causes of Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)

The exact cause of BV is not known, but it is believed to be linked to a number of factors, including:

- Sexual activity: Women who have multiple sexual partners or who engage in unprotected sex are at a higher risk of developing BV.
- Antibiotics: The use of antibiotics can sometimes disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina, which can lead to the spread of harmful bacteria.
- Hormonal changes: Fluctuations in estrogen levels, such as those that occur during menstruation or menopause, can alter the pH balance of the vagina, making it more susceptible to BV.
- Personal hygiene: Over-cleaning, using strong soaps or perfumes or douching can disturb the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina and make BV more likely.
- Health conditions: Certain health conditions, such as diabetes or HIV, can weaken the immune system and make BV more likely.

Treatments for Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is a common vaginal infection that is caused by imbalances in the bacteria found in the vagina. Treatments for BV typically include antibiotics that are prescribed by a doctor. These antibiotics can be taken orally or applied directly to the vagina as creams or gels. 

For mild cases, doctors may recommend using non-prescription antiseptic products like hydrogen peroxide or boric acid suppositories to help restore balance to the bacteria in the vagina. Additionally, taking probiotics or eating fermented foods can help replenish the good bacteria. 

It is important to complete the full course of antibiotics, even if symptoms go away, in order to fully treat the infection and prevent it from recurring. BV can also be prevented by maintaining good hygiene practices, avoiding douching, and using protection during sexual activity.


A strong, fishy odor from the vagina
Thin, gray, or white vaginal discharge
Vaginal discharge or odor after sexual intercourse
Itching in the vagina and vulva
Pain or burning during urination/peeing
Vaginal rash
Vaginal pain and soreness

Confirmation Tests

- Vaginal swab
- Gram stain

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