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Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a bacterial infection that affects the vagina and occurs when the normal bacterial balance of the vaginal fluid is upset. BV is not considered a sexually transmitted disease (STD), but it can increase the risk of contracting one.
Bacterial vaginosis may clear up on its own, without treatment, and may even go undetected by some women. The most common symptom is an odorous vaginal discharge or fish-like smell that worsens after sex. BV is not something that can be passed from person to person. People who are sexually active are more likely to get BV. People who have never had sex can get BV as well. Causes of BV include douching and having new or multiple sex partners.
In some cases, BV can lead to a more serious pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can lead to irreversible reproductive damage. Your risk of getting other STDs like chlamydia and gonorrhea increases if BV is left untreated. The odds of transmitting or being infected by HIV also increase when a person has BV.