All You Need To Know About BV — Symptoms, Testing, Treatment, And Prevention

Tatiana Cromwell
Tatiana Cromwell
December 2, 2022
min read
Reviewed by:
Adele Morris
All You Need To Know About BV — Symptoms, Testing, Treatment, And Prevention

Bacterial vaginitis (BV) is an overgrowth of certain bacteria in your vagina. It is a common infection and can happen to anyone, but it is most common between ages 15 and 44 [1]. A BV test at home helps you know if you have this condition. Detecting this condition is an important step, as the treatment is straightforward.

BV symptoms are not severe, but you shouldn't take this infection lightly. It increases your risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and can complicate pregnancy.

Symptoms of BV

Bacterial vaginosis causes no symptoms in half of the women affected [2]. For those who do have symptoms, most often, BV causes a change in the vaginal discharge. It can be of a milky or gray color. Vaginal discharge in BV can be watery or foamy and may have a fishy smell, especially after sex. Other symptoms:

  • Burning when passing urine
  • Burning in the vagina
  • Itching around the vaginal opening

The symptoms of BV are similar to those of vaginal yeast infection and other disorders. If an at-home test indicates the possibility of infection, you should consult your healthcare provider for further testing, diagnosis, and treatment.

BV during pregnancy can be dangerous. It can cause miscarriages or premature births. If you have BV during pregnancy, your doctor will treat it; the medicines used for this condition are safe during pregnancy [3].

How to test BV

The diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis is usually carried at a physician office; however, with at-home testing you can know the signs of BV easily and in a cost-effective manner.

At-Home Test for BV

You can do a BV test at home for convenience and privacy. An at-home bacterial vaginosis test requires you to take a sample from your vagina and test it.

These tests measure your vaginal pH by matching the color on the test strip to a reference color chart. Infections increase the normal acidic pH. Using a kit at home will tell you quickly that you have an infection.

Vaginox is a rapid, dependable, and inexpensive way to detect, at home, the vaginal pH changes that indicate an infection. A change from the normal pH value alerts you to the possibility of infection and the need to consult your health care provider. This bacterial vaginosis test kit that checks the pH of vaginal fluids doesn't need a prescription. The collection swabs and other materials needed are all included in the kit.

Higher than normal vaginal pH is linked to vaginal infections such as BV. An at-home vaginal pH test can check signs of bacterial vaginosis cost-effectively.

In-Office Diagnosis

Your doctor will examine you for any signs, such as bacterial vaginosis bumps around your vagina. They'll take a sample of vaginal discharge and look at it under a microscope. They may also send the sample to the laboratory for diagnosis.

Avoid douching before going to your doctor; it can cover odors that help your doctor reach the diagnosis.

At an in-office diagnosis, a healthcare professional will take sample of your vaginal secretion and test it under a microscope for potential signs of bacterial infection.
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How To Treat a BV

BV treatment at home is the norm. Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics for you to take orally. You should complete the course even if you feel better [1].

Avoid sexual contact until you have completed treatment. If your symptoms persist despite the medication, consult your doctor again.

If you are female and have a female partner, she could have BV, too. She should consult her doctor [2]. BV does not occur in men, but men can carry the infection and infect their partners. BV in men has no symptoms.

How To Get Rid of BV Naturally

Several home remedies for BV are commonly used but are not proven. Some bacterial vaginosis home remedies suggest the insertion of these natural substances in your vagina:

  • Garlic
  • Tea tree oil
  • Probiotics
  • Apple cider vinegar

You should always consult with an expert before inserting anything in your vagina.

Boric acid for BV has been used for many years. It is effective against both yeast and bacterial infections. You may benefit if you have repeated infections.

Bacterial Vaginosis vs. Yeast Infection

Both these vaginal infections cause an increase in vaginal discharge. The vaginal pH remains in the normal range (3.8 to 4.4) in yeast infections but changes to above 4.5 in bacterial vaginosis. The discharge in BV has a fishy smell. The discharge in vaginal yeast infection is also white or gray and may look like cottage cheese.

Learn more about distinguishing characteristics of BV, yeast-infection, and trich in this blog.

It isn't possible to diagnose the different types of vaginosis on your own with absolute certainty. You should consult your doctor for testing and diagnosis, followed by the appropriate treatment. Yeast infections can be treated with over-the-counter medicines, but BV requires prescription antibiotics.

How To Prevent a BV

Bacterial vaginosis is not a sexually transmitted disease, but it is more common among people who have sex [2]. Some practices can help you avoid this troublesome infection:

  • Abstinence from sex during infection
  • Not douching
  • Using condoms or dental dams
  • Limiting the number of sex partners
  • Showering instead of baths

Avoid the following:

  • Perfumed soaps, bubble baths, shower gels, or shampoo in the bath
  • Vaginal deodorants and washes
  • Smoking
  • Strong detergents to wash underwear

Repeated infections happen often. Your doctor will give you a course of antibiotics again. If you get BV frequently, your doctor may give you an antibiotic gel to put inside your vagina regularly for a few months [2].


[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Bacterial Vaginosis – CDC Basic Fact Sheet," [Accessed December 10, 2022].

[2] National Health Service, "Bacterial vaginosis," [Accessed December 10, 2022].

[3] Office on Women's Health, "Bacterial vaginosis," US Department of Health and Social Services. [Accessed December 10, 2022].

About the Author
Tatiana Cromwell

Tatiana Cromwell is a highly experienced and skilled medical writer with a degree in psychology. With over 20 years of experience in the field, she has a deep understanding of medical terminology and the intricacies of the healthcare industry.

Throughout her career, Tatiana has worked with a range of clients, including pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and medical device manufacturers, to produce high-quality content for a variety of purposes. She has a particular interest in mental health and has written extensively on topics such as anxiety, depression, and addiction.

In addition to her writing skills, Tatiana is also an excellent communicator and is highly adept at translating complex medical concepts into easy-to-understand language. This has made her a valuable asset to her clients and has helped her to build a strong reputation in the industry.

Outside of her work as a medical writer, Tatiana is a passionate advocate for mental health awareness and is dedicated to helping others access the support and resources they need to thrive. She is an active member of several professional organizations and is always looking for ways to improve her skills and knowledge in her field.

About the Reviewer
This blog was
Reviewed by:
Adele Morris

Adele Morris served as the editor and proofreader of this blog, displaying her exceptional editorial skills and expertise in the field.

The blog was also reviewed by the Diagnox content team. Diagnox Staff consists of a multidisciplinary team of scientists, content writers, and healthcare professionals with an expertise to create and review high-quality, informative, accurate, and easy-to-understand content for both professionals and everyday readers. Our staff follows strict guidelines to ensure the credibility and authenticity of the information, reviewing them independently and verifying them by various scientific and technical sources to ensure accuracy. Our review team believes in delivering knowledge free from bias to improve public health and well-being.

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