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Bacterial Vaginosis (Causes, Symptoms, Treatment) (cont.)

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What are the signs and symptoms of bacterial vaginosis?

Most women with bacterial vaginosis do not have symptoms from the condition. When symptoms are present, an abnormal vaginal discharge is the most common symptom. The discharge is usually gray or whitish in color and can be associated with a fishy odor. Some women report vaginal itching and burning, or burning during urination.

What are the complications of bacterial vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis can cause complications during pregnancy. Having bacterial vaginosis has been linked to an increased risk of preterm delivery or having a baby with low birth weight. Bacterial vaginosis also increases a woman's risk of having an infection after surgical procedures such as abortion or hysterectomy. Bacterial vaginosis also increases a woman's risk for contracting sexually-transmitted infections, including herpes simplex virus (HSV), Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV.

How is bacterial vaginosis diagnosed?

The best way to diagnose bacterial vaginosis is examination of the vaginal discharge under a microscope. A pelvic exam, including diagnostic tests for other causes of symptoms, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia, may also be performed at the time of diagnosis. Examination of the vaginal discharge under the microscope reveals cells coated with bacteria that are known as "clue cells." The pH of the vaginal fluid in bacterial vaginosis is most often greater than 4.5. Bacterial cultures are not useful in establishing a diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis since it represents an imbalance in bacteria that may normally be present in the vagina.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/18/2013

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