STD Information: Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)

BV is basically an imbalance of the normal bacteria that live in the vagina, most specifically in association with loss of the normal protective lactobacilli that normally live there in abundance. It is not clear what precisely causes BV; some researchers think women sex partners may actually transmit some undefined factor that causes it.  Research continues on this question. We do know douching is a risk factor for BV (and douching is a bad idea in general). Join our BV study and help us find out what is up with this common condition!

  • Symptoms: gray to yellowish homogenous discharge, sometimes with a fishy odor, sometimes causing vulvar &/or vaginal irritation. 
  • Transmission WTW: not clear. While one research article called BV a "STD among lesbians," this has yet to be proven, and research is underway to look at this more closely. Whether or not partners should be evaluated or treated is not yet known.
  •  Treatment: antibiotic vaginal cream or oral medication (metronidazole or clindamycin).  Over the counter lactobacilli supplements do not contain the specific kind of bacteria needed to replenish the vagina's natural balance.

Please note that for the purpose of our web siteS we are focusing primarily on woman to woman transmission (WTW) and only providing a general overview of the infections themselves. You may want to check out our Bibliography and Links sections for more in depth information or contact us with specific questions through STD Q&A's.