STD Home > Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis

One of the most common bacterial vaginosis symptoms is an abnormal vaginal discharge. The discharge is usually white or gray and has an unpleasant odor. Other symptoms can include burning during urination, and vaginal itching or irritation. However, some women have no signs or symptoms at all.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis?

Women with symptoms of bacterial vaginosis (BV) may have an abnormal vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor. Some women report a strong fish-like odor to the discharge, especially after sexual intercourse. The discharge can be white (milky) or gray and thin. Other symptoms may include burning when urinating, itching around the outside of the vagina, and irritation. However, these could be symptoms of another infection, too.
Some women with the condition have no symptoms at all.

Complications Associated With Bacterial Vaginosis

In most cases, bacterial vaginosis doesn't cause any problems. But some problems can happen if bacterial vaginosis is left untreated, including:
  • Pregnancy problems. Bacterial vaginosis can cause premature delivery and low birth-weight babies (less than five pounds).
  • PID. Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection that can affect a woman's uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes, which carry eggs from the ovaries to the uterus. Having bacterial vaginosis increases a woman's risk of getting PID after a surgical procedure, such as a hysterectomy or an abortion.
  • Higher risk of getting other STDs. Having bacterial vaginosis can increase the chances of getting other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV. Women with HIV who get bacterial vaginosis have a higher risk of passing HIV to a sexual partner.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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