pregnancy problems are more common in women who have bacterial vaginosis than
in women who do not. Bacterial vaginosis has been linked to
miscarriage, preterm delivery (before 37 completed
weeks of pregnancy), and pelvic infection after childbirth. Experts continue to research whether it is a
direct or indirect cause.
Screening and treatment
If you are pregnant and have symptoms of a vaginal infection, it is important to be tested for bacterial
If you are pregnant and do not have symptoms of a vaginal infection, talk to your doctor about what is best for you. If you are at low risk for preterm delivery, experts recommend no routine testing. But if you are at high risk for preterm delivery, experts don't know for sure if routine testing is helpful or harmful.1
Over the past few years,
experts have found conflicting evidence that antibiotics for bacterial
vaginosis may prevent preterm labor. Some recent reviews of studies suggest
that antibiotics for bacterial vaginosis do not prevent preterm birth. But antibiotics
do lower the risk of
preterm premature rupture of membranes (pPROM), a
condition that leads to preterm birth and sometimes infection. In women who
have had a preterm birth before, treating bacterial vaginosis with antibiotics
may also lower the risk of having a baby with a low birth weight.2
Some doctors recommend that all pregnant women who have bacterial vaginosis be treated with oral—not
Studies show that oral antibiotics such as
metronidazole and clindamycin are effective treatments that avoid increased
risk to the fetus.3
Use of clindamycin
vaginal cream has been shown to have a slightly
increased risk for preterm birth, so it is not recommended for use during
Tinidazole is not
recommended for use during pregnancy.
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2008). Screening for Bacterial Vaginosis in Pregnancy to Prevent Preterm Delivery: Recommendation Statement. Available online: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/uspsbvag.htm.
Brocklehurst P, et al. (2013). Antibiotics for treating bacterial vaginosis in pregnancy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (1).
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2010). Diseases characterized by vaginal discharge section of Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines, 2010. MMWR, 59(RR-12): 56–63. Also available online: http://www.cdc.gov/std/treatment/2010/default.htm.
Hillier S, et al. (2008). Bacterial vaginosis. In KK
Holmes et al., eds., Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 4th
ed., pp. 737–768. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Primary Medical Reviewer
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Devika Singh, MD, MPH - Infectious Disease
Current as of
March 12, 2014
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this