How is bacterial vaginosis treated?

Bacterial vaginosis resolves on its own without any medications in one third of non-pregnant women, and about half of pregnant women. BV is treated using medicines that kill the infection when symptoms are bothersome. The most common medicines ordered for BV are metronidazole or clindamycin. These may be given as pills that are taken by mouth. They may also be given as vaginal gels or ovules.

In women who are not pregnant, the Centers for Disease Control recommend treating BV only if it is causing bothersome symptoms for the woman. Treatment is also recommended before surgical procedures to avoid risk of infectious complications. Treatment of BV can lead to vaginal yeast infections.

Do the medications have side effects?

Yes. You may have:

  • Upset stomach
  • Metal taste in your mouth
  • Heartburn

Don't drink alcohol while you are taking metronidazole. You can become very sick to your stomach. Call your health care provider if you have these or any other side effects.

Can I treat myself for bacterial vaginosis?

No. Bacterial vaginosis can only be treated with medicines ordered by your health care provider. You cannot purchase over-the-counter products to treat BV. In fact, over-the-counter yeast treatments can make BV worse. Products for douching will not cure BV.

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