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Bacterial Vaginosis in Pregnancy


Updated June 11, 2014

Female doctor discussing with a patient
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The vagina naturally has bacteria in it. These bacteria live, causing no problems, for long periods of time. When the environment is disrupted, there can be an overgrowth of this bacteria. The things that can interfere with normal growth can include medications including antibiotics, spermicides, douching, infections, having sex and others.

Typically you would suspect bacterial vaginosis (BV), also known as vaginitis, if you had an increase in discharge. While it can be normal in pregnancy to notice an increased discharge, the discharge you would have with bacterial vaginosis is different. This is more likely to a thin discharge that is dark, gray or even green tinged. There is usually a fish odor noted as well. You may also find that the smell is more common after you have had sex recently. Itching might occur if you have lots of discharge from the vagina, but it is not a common symptom of bacterial vaginosis.

About 50% of women will not have symptoms of bacterial vaginosis. Though it can occur commonly in pregnancy. It may also lead to preterm labor, which is why you will also be tested for bacterial vaginosis should you have signs of premature labor. Bacterial vaginosis is something that reoccurs often. The more often it happens, the more likely that you are to have a sexually transmitted infections (STI). Though your doctor or midwife may have already screened you for this possibility, you may need multiple screenings.

Your treatment may consist of a vaginal gel or cream or perhaps an oral medication. Typically used medications include clindamycin and metronidazole. Side effects may include nausea and vomiting.


Bacterial Vaginosis. March of Dimes. http://www.marchofdimes.com/pnhec/188_722.asp

Patient Education Pamphlet: Vaginitis: Causes and Treatments. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). .

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