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Bacterial Vaginosis Treatment Overview

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Care Plan


First steps to consider

  • While sometimes bacterial vaginosis may go away on its own, you should see a healthcare provider for an antibiotic treatment.
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All treatments for bacterial vaginosis
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When to see a healthcare provider

If you have symptoms of bacterial vaginosis (BV) like fishy-smelling, off-white, watery vaginal discharge or itching or burning in the vagina, you should see a healthcare provider to get a diagnosis and treatment.

BV sometimes goes away on its own and usually does not cause complications, but you should still see a provider. Untreated BV can make you more likely to get sexually transmitted infections (STIs). It can also lead to pelvic inflammatory disease. It’s especially important to see a provider if you get BV while pregnant, since the infection is linked to premature deliveries and low birth weight babies.

Getting diagnosed

Your doctor can diagnose BV based on your symptoms and a pelvic exam. A sample of your vaginal secretions may be taken to check for levels of bacteria in your vagina. Your doctor may also insert a pH strip into the vagina. A higher pH level is a sign of BV.

What to expect from your doctor visit

You may be prescribed an oral or vaginal antibiotic to treat BV, especially if you are pregnant.  Always finish all the antibiotics you are given. You may still have symptoms after you are done with the antibiotics—it can take 2 weeks for symptoms to completely go away.

Prescription bacterial vaginosis medications

Types of providers who treat bacterial vaginosis

  • A primary care provider can diagnose BV and prescribe medication.
  • BV is often diagnosed and treated by ob-gyns, who specialize in female reproductive health.
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