Which Antibiotics Treat Bacterial Vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis can be effectively treated with prescription antibiotics that can help readjust the balance of bacteria in the vagina. Although some over-the-counter vaginal medications are sold, they are not effective for curing bacterial vaginosis.

Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the following antibiotics:

  • metronidazole tablets (Flagyl)
  • metronidazole vaginal gel (Flagyl, Metrogel)
  • clindamycin vaginal cream (Cleocin)
  • clindamycin tablets (Cleocin)
  • clindamycin vaginal suppositories (Cleocin)
  • tinidazole tablets (Tindamax)

They are only available with a prescription. Your healthcare provider will tell you for how long you need to take the treatment. It's usually for between five and seven days.

Most women should try one of the first three antibiotics first. Treatment of BV is recommended for all women who have symptoms.

Treatment is especially important for pregnant women. If you have bacterial vaginosis while pregnant, your baby is more likely to be born prematurely (early) or with a low birth weight (less than 5.5 pounds).

There is a risk of relapse if the entire course of antibiotics is not finished. It's important to finish all the pills in the prescription, even if symptoms start to disappear.

Both metronidazole and tinidazole can cause stomach upsets and nausea if you drink alcohol while using them -- it's best to avoid alcohol until a full 24 hours after completing the course.

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