Proceeds from website advertising help sustain Lab Tests Online. AACC is a not-for-profit organization and does not endorse non-AACC products and services.

Pregnancy & Prenatal Testing

Print this page
Share this page:

First Trimester: Bacterial Vaginosis Screen

Bacterial vaginosis (BV), an overgrowth of a normal flora in the vagina that causes a vaginal discharge, is relatively common in both pregnant and non-pregnant women. Untreated bacterial vaginosis during pregnancy can result in amniotic fluid infection, premature rupture of the membranes, premature delivery, low birth weight of the baby, and possibly pelvic inflammatory disease in the mother. Healthcare practitioners do not perform this test routinely but may order it for those who have symptoms, especially if the woman previously delivered a premature baby.

Signs and symptoms of bacterial vaginosis may include the following:

  • Vaginal discharge that is not clear in appearance
  • Presence of "clue cells," which are vaginal epithelial cells with most of the surface covered by bacteria, in a sample of vaginal discharge that is examined under a microscope
  • Amine (fishy) odor when the discharge is tested with a chemical
  • A decrease in acidity of the vaginal discharge

If the woman has 3 of these 4 signs and symptoms, she is diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis. It is usually cured with a 7-day treatment of a prescribed antibiotic.

March of Dimes: Bacterial vaginosis and pregnancy