Bacterial vaginosis: a primer for clinicians

Postgrad Med. 2019 Jan;131(1):8-18. doi: 10.1080/00325481.2019.1546534. Epub 2018 Nov 30.


Bacterial vaginosis (BV) affects approximately one third of women in the United States. While often asymptomatic, BV infection may be accompanied by serious health consequences, such as preterm birth and pelvic inflammatory disease, and may facilitate acquisition of sexually transmitted infections. Identifying appropriate patients for screening, such as pregnant women, women planning pregnancy, and women with multiple and/or new sexual partners, is imperative for treatment. Diagnosis of BV has traditionally depended on the presence of vaginal discharge and odor, elevated pH, and clue cells as determined by microscopy, but newer diagnostic modalities that utilize molecular techniques allow for more convenient and accurate testing for BV. Approved treatment options consist of antibiotics administered as oral or intravaginal formulations. Patient counseling and education regarding treatment options, including adherence to prescribed treatments, appropriate hygienic practices, and treatment of symptomatic same-sex partners, are crucial to optimize patient outcomes and prevent recurrence.

Keywords: Bacterial vaginosis; clindamycin; diagnosis; metronidazole; secnidazole; tinidazole.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Physicians
  • Vaginosis, Bacterial / diagnosis*
  • Vaginosis, Bacterial / drug therapy


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents