Bacterial vaginosis is caused by bacteria, including Gardnerella, Mycoplasma and Anaerobic bacteria. The main symptom is a fishy or foul-smelling thin homogeneous grayish white discharge from the vagina. Itching is uncommon.
The microorganisms of the vagina were first studied in the late 1800's, but the name of this infection has changed over the years, as scientists learned more about the bacteria involved.
Bacterial vaginosis is prevalent in 15 to 25% of the female population between ages 15 and 44. In one American study, 16% of pregnant women had bacterial vaginosis. If a mother has vaginosis, the chance of delivering a baby of less than normal weight rises by 40%, and the infection causes 6% of the premature deliveries in the USA. Treating the infection with antibiotics reduced the rate of premature deliveries in certain groups of women by 35%.