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A to Z: Bacterial Vaginosis

May also be called: BV; Vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is an infection in the vagina.

More to Know

Bacterial vaginosis occurs when the balance between normal "good" bacteria and harmful "bad" bacteria in the vagina is out of balance. It can cause symptoms like itching, burning, an abnormal discharge, or a bad odor. Some girls with BV notice a thin white or gray discharge, sometimes with a bad, fishy smell that's more noticeable after having sex. However, many girls have few symptoms and don't realize they have an infection.

Girls who've never had sex can also get BV. Bacterial vaginosis is not considered a sexually transmitted infection disease (STD), but the chances of developing it seem to increase with the number of sexual partners a girl has. And having BV can increase the risk for developing STDs (also called sexually transmitted infections, or STIs), such as genital herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, or HIV.

Keep in Mind

BV is the most common vaginal infection affecting young women. The usual treatment for BV is prescription antibiotics (pills, vaginal creams, or suppositories). Infections like BV are one reason why girls who are having sex need to get regular gynecological checkups and STD tests.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

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