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Bacterial Vaginosis in Teens: Care Instructions

Female pelvic organs


Bacterial vaginosis is a condition in which there is excess growth of certain bacteria that are normally found in the vagina. Symptoms often include abnormal grey or yellow discharge with a "fishy" odour. It is not considered an infection that is spread through sexual contact.

Symptoms can be annoying and uncomfortable. But bacterial vaginosis does not usually cause other health problems. However, in some cases it can lead to more serious issues.

While bacterial vaginosis may go away on its own, most doctors use antibiotics to treat it. You may have been prescribed pills or vaginal cream. With treatment, bacterial vaginosis usually clears up in 5 to 7 days.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your antibiotics as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Do not eat or drink anything that contains alcohol if you are taking metronidazole.
  • Keep using your medicine if you start your period. Use pads instead of tampons while using a vaginal cream or suppository. Tampons can absorb the medicine.
  • Wear loose cotton clothing. Do not wear nylon and other materials that hold body heat and moisture close to the skin.
  • Do not scratch. Relieve itching with a cold pack or a cool bath.
  • Do not wash your vulva more than once a day. Use plain water or a mild, unscented soap. Do not douche.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have new or worse pain in your vagina or pelvis.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You have new or worse vaginal itching or discharge.
  • You have unexpected vaginal bleeding.
  • You are not getting better as expected.
  • Your symptoms return after you finish the course of your medicine.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.