Currently, the only effective treatments for BV are prescribed antibiotics, including metronidazole (pronounced met-roh-NIH-duh-zohl) and clindamycin (pronounced klin-duh-MY-sin).1,2,3,4 These are prescribed as oral medications, which are taken by mouth, or as a gel or cream, both of which are inserted into the vagina with an applicator.
Even if symptoms start to disappear, it is important to complete the entire course of a prescription for BV because of the likelihood of recurrence.
Over-the-counter medications for treating vaginal problems are not effective for treating BV.
Should BV be treated in pregnant women?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pregnant women with BV should be treated because of the possible risks of BV to the fetus.
Risks of BV during pregnancy include delivering an infant preterm (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) and delivering an infant with a low birth weight (generally, 5.5 pounds or less).
The CDC recommends that pregnant women be tested—and treated if necessary—if they have symptoms of BV.
In addition, the CDC recommends that all pregnant women who have ever had a preterm delivery or delivered an infant with a low birth weight be considered for BV examination regardless of whether they have symptoms.
Some research shows that treating BV in pregnant women does not reduce the risk of preterm birth. Further study is needed to better understand these outcomes.5