Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common vaginal infection (bacterial) that has affected 21.2 million women in the United States alone at least once in their lifetime. Your vagina has high numbers of healthy bacteria known as, lactobacilli. There is also a small number of anaerobic bacteria. When the natural balance between these bacteria is disturbed, BV may result. The overgrowth of anaerobic bacteria causes vaginal inflammation and uncomfortable symptoms, including itching and burning when urinating. BV is not a sexually transmitted disease; however, since bacterial infections can be passed from one partner to the next, you should refrain from having sex while infected.
BV does not always have symptoms, so many women do not even know they have it. Sometimes the symptoms mimic a yeast infection. One important distinction between BV and a yeast infection is that yeast infections cause itching in the vaginal area while bacterial vaginosis does not. The symptoms of bacterial vaginosis are:
- White/grey, or yellowish discharge
- Foul, often fishy, odor
- Burning when urinating
- Itching on the outside of the vagina