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Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common bacterial infection of the vagina. Home testing for BV can provide a person with important information about their vaginal health.

Quick links to at-home BV tests

BV occurs when there is a change in the balance of bacteria in the vagina. Researchers do not fully understand the cause, but it frequently occurs in sexually active people, making it more likely for them to contract a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

At-home tests allow a person to self-check for BV. Although the tests can provide a person with information about a possible infection, individuals should always see a doctor if they receive a positive result.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), BV is the most common vaginal condition in people aged 15–44 years.

Despite being common in sexually active people, BV is not an STI. Instead, a person may develop BV due to an imbalance of vaginal bacteria. The Office on Women’s Health (OWH) states that some common risk factors for BV include:

Symptoms may be mild or not present at all. If they do occur, the CDC notes that a person may experience some or all of the following:

The symptoms of BV are similar to those of other conditions that affect the vagina, so a person should contact a doctor for advice if they experience them.

Due to the ease of use and availability of at-home tests, a person can test for BV at home before making an appointment with a doctor.

Many at-home tests provide specific instructions on when to test for BV, but most people will test if they notice symptoms. Other reasons to test may include:

  • for peace of mind
  • if they’re pregnant
  • if they have a new sexual partner(s)
  • after sex without a barrier method of birth control

Older 2013 research has shown that most women perform self-tests correctly and that results from home tests are reasonably accurate. At-home tests may check the pH level of the vagina, which can help determine whether a person has BV.

However, not all tests will be 100% accurate, and false negative results are possible.

The pH level is one of four criteria that doctors use to confirm a diagnosis. The other three are:

  • fishy odor
  • presence of “clue” cells, which are cells collected from the vaginal wall that show a coating of bacteria
  • white discharge

After using a home test and returning a positive result, a person should talk with their doctor, who will diagnose and treat the BV.

MNT chooses at-home tests that meet the following criteria:

  • Reputable companies: MNT chooses companies that offer effective and safe tests that give clear usage instructions. MNT chooses companies that clearly state the capabilities and limitations of their products.
  • Laboratories: Where possible, MNT will choose companies that process test samples in CLIA-certified labs. This means they follow state and federal regulations.
  • Budget: MNT chooses at-home tests that suit a wide range of budgets.
  • Privacy: MNT includes companies that offer robust and transparent privacy measures, such as data protection and discreet packaging.
  • Test result speed: MNT selects companies that inform customers when they will receive their test results and whether they will receive them via email, app, or phone.
  • Further support: MNT will indicate whether a company offers further support, such as a follow-up phone consultation with a doctor to discuss test results.

Below is a range of tests that an individual may order online to check for BV.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best test for results in 2–5 days: myLAB Box BV Home Test

The company will mail a BV testing kit to a person’s chosen location in a discreet package. Once it arrives, a person must follow the instructions to perform the test and then return it to the lab.

According to the myLAB Box website, the kit features:

  • a test that takes fewer than 5 minutes
  • lab results within 1–5 days
  • pain-free test
  • free shipping
  • consultation with a doctor for those with a positive result

An individual can use their health savings account (HSA) toward the cost of the test.

The company states that many women with BV have no symptoms, and this tests checks for a wide range of bacteria that may cause BV.

This test may be ideal for those who cannot see a doctor and would like to get results quickly. The free consultation may help a person confirm the diagnosis and get a prescription to treat the infection.

The company claims its labs hold College of American Pathologists (CAP) and Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certifications.

A person can order a myLAB Box BV Home Test online for $99.

Best test for identifying vaginitis strains: Walk-In Lab Vaginosis Profile – Doctor’s Data Test Kit

Walk-In-Lab offers a vaginosis profile kit that it claims distinguishes between BV and vulvovaginal candidiasis.

The company states that this test is useful for finding the cause of vaginal discomfort and discharge and persistent yeast infections.

Once a person selects and orders the kit, the company will send the kit directly to a person’s chosen location.

After completing the test, an individual will send the sample back to the company for testing. However, the company explicitly states not to collect a sample or send the kit back on a Friday.

According to the company, a person can expect their results within 6–8 days.

The company does not offer consultations or prescriptions for those who receive positive results.

A person can order a Walk-In-Lab Vaginosis Profile test for $170.

Best test for results in seconds: FloriSense Vaginal Health Test

FloriSense claims that its Vaginal Health Test gives results in about 10 seconds. It tests the pH in a person’s vagina to identify whether there is an infection.

The company advises that if the swab changes color, it will indicate trichomoniasis (trich) or BV. If the test detects either of these, an individual should contact a doctor for confirmation and treatment.

If there is no color change to the swab, but a person is experiencing symptoms, it could indicate a yeast infection. This is treatable with over-the-counter (OTC) medications.

The box contains two swabs with complete instructions and an information insert.

This test is suitable for those who want an affordable test that provides quick results and may differentiate between BV and a yeast infection.

However, while this test can help determine whether an infection is present, users may have to undergo further testing at a doctor’s office to confirm their result.

Additionally, lab tests may provide more accurate results, as scientists can check the samples for specific infection strains under a microscope.

A person can order the FloriSense Vaginal Health Test online for $18.95. It includes two swabs.

Best test that provides prescription medication: LetsGetChecked Vaginitis Test (BV, CV, TV)

This test checks for BV, yeast infections, and trichomonas.

A person uses this test by:

  1. ordering a test kit online
  2. taking a sample by following the instructions and video tutorial
  3. sending it to a LetsGetChecked lab with the provided prepaid shipping label

The company writes that a person will receive their results online within 5 days.

According to LetsGetChecked, a person gets automatic access to medication if they receive a positive result. The company sends treatment to customers at no additional cost. Customers will also get a one-on-one call with a nurse.

A person can get treatment for BV, candidal vaginitis, and trichomonas vaginitis.

LetsGetChecked notes that this test is not suitable for everyone, including those who:

  • are pregnant
  • have symptoms of pelvic inflammatory disease
  • have had a procedure to the vaginal area resulting in scarring or damage
  • cannot use a tampon due to a medical condition

It is also a more expensive option and will not suit those with smaller budgets.

A person can order the LetsGetChecked test online for $239.

Best test for routine monitoring: MedLab Diagnostics Vaginal pH Test Strips

This is a pack of 50 pH test strips that people can use to monitor vaginal acidity levels. The company suggests using these strips regularly to monitor vaginal health and quickly detect any abnormalities.

The company also suggests using them after taking antibiotics or when experiencing symptoms of a condition such as BV.

However, this test cannot specifically indicate if a person has BV or any other condition, as it does not check for strains of bacteria. And the test strips do not go to a lab for further analysis.

Instead, a person can interpret the pH levels on the test strips and seek further testing and medical advice if their results indicate that they are at risk of BV. For instance, a pH level higher than 4.5 may indicate that a person has BV or another vaginal infection.

This product will suit those who want to routinely measure and monitor the acidity levels in the vagina, which may indicate abnormalities.

A person can order a pack of 50 MedLab Diagnostics Vaginal pH Test Strips for $17.99.

Best test for vaginal and urinary tract infections (UTIs): Stix Vaginal Testing Kit

This testing kit by Stix comes with:

  • three UTI tests
  • three pH-balanced wipes
  • two vaginal pH tests

The company says this kit is eligible for purchase with a health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA).

A person performs the UTI test by:

  1. wiping the urethra with one of the wipes in the package
  2. peeing on a test strip pad
  3. comparing the color of the test strip pad with the color chart in the kit

A person performs the vaginal pH test by:

  1. inserting the cotton swab into the vagina and holding it against the walls for 5 seconds
  2. removing the cotton swab and wiping it on the pH test strip, making sure not to touch it with anything else
  3. matching the color of the test area to the pH color chart

This test is a viable option for those who are prone to UTIs or vaginal infections. Having this type of kit at home can be helpful for quickly doing a test if a person thinks they have an infection.

However, this kit only checks the pH of the urethra or the vagina. It does not check against strains of bacteria or provide an accurate diagnosis of what might be causing the change in vaginal acidity levels.

Therefore, users should always visit a doctor to confirm a diagnosis, especially if the tests show a positive or abnormal result.

A person can get the Stix Vaginal Testing Kit online for $28.

The table below compares each at-home BV test for its type, price, and uses and whether it indicates a BV infection.

TypeWhat it tests forIndicates BV infectionPrice
myLAB Box BV Home Testvaginal swabBVyes$99
Walk-In-Lab Vaginosis Profile – Doctor’s Data Test Kitnot statedBVyes$170
FloriSense Vaginal Health Testvaginal swabvaginal pHno$18.95
LetsGetChecked Vaginitis Test (BV, CV, TV)vaginal swab• BV
• yeast infection
• trichomonas
yes$239
MedLab Diagnostics Vaginal pH Test StripspH test stripsvaginal pHno$17.99
Stix Vaginal Testing Kit• UTI test strip
• vaginal pH test strip
• pH balance wipes
• UTI
• vaginal pH
no$28

An individual with BV should speak with a doctor to identify the best ways to help support treatment, including minimizing discomfort. A physician can suggest OTC or prescription medication that can safely relieve symptoms such as itching.

The OWH also suggests:

  • taking all medication, even if symptoms go away
  • avoiding sexual contact until finishing treatment
  • avoiding soap around the vaginal area
  • avoid douching
  • keeping the vagina cool by wearing cotton underpants
  • wiping front to back from the vagina to the anus

When possible, a person should visit a doctor if they notice symptoms of BV. The doctor will likely perform a physical examination and run some lab tests.

A person should also contact a doctor if they have positive results from an at-home BV test. A doctor can then confirm a diagnosis and provide treatment. The CDC notes that typical treatment for BV involves antibiotics.

The CDC also warns that BV can come back following treatment. If a person notices recurring symptoms despite the initial treatment, they should speak with a doctor for further evaluation.

The medication and dosage a doctor prescribes for BV will depend on the type of infection a person has, any allergies they may have, and the severity of the BV.

The CDC provides the following BV treatment guidelines for doctors. All of these treatments have approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The CDC specifically recommends oral metronidazole, metronidazole gel, or clindamycin cream as first-line treatment options. It considers the other treatments to be alternatives.

The topical treatments include:

  • a 5-gram (g) application of 0.75% metronidazole gel inside the vagina daily for 5 days
  • a 5-g application of 2% clindamycin cream inside the vagina daily for 7 days before going to sleep

Oral treatments include:

  • 500 milligrams (mg) of metronidazole twice a day for 7 days
  • 300 mg of clindamycin twice a day for 7 days
  • a single dose of 2 g secnidazole
  • 2 g of tinidazole daily for 2 days
  • 1 g of tinidazole daily for 5 days

Learn more about BV medication.

BV can affect the overall health of the vagina and increase a person’s risk of developing other vaginal infections. The CDC also advises that a person’s risk of the following conditions increases with untreated BV:

The OWH offers the following advice on lowering the risk of developing BV:

  • using warm water only on the outside of the vagina, avoiding soaps
  • avoiding sexual activity
  • avoiding douching
  • using condoms or dental dams during sex

Below are answers to the top frequently asked questions about BV.

What happens if bacterial vaginosis goes untreated?

BV can sometimes go away on its own without treatment. However, untreated BV can increase a person’s risk of a range of serious health conditions, some of which can affect fertility.

A person with untreated BV may be at a higher risk of getting or transmitting HIV, experiencing premature delivery if pregnant, and getting chlamydia or gonorrhea, which can increase the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease. This condition can affect a person’s ability to have children.

Is bacterial vaginosis an STD?

BV is not an STI. According to the CDC, it is an imbalance of certain types of bacteria in the vagina.

Will BV go away on its own?

The CDC states that BV can sometimes go away on its own. However, a person should always seek treatment from a doctor for BV as it can increase a person’s risk of STIs and serious health conditions.

BV causes itchiness, pain, and abnormal discharge in the vagina. The bacterial infection can cause a person to be more likely to contract other infections, such as common STIs.

A person can test for BV using a home testing kit, which they can often purchase online or at a local pharmacy. Individuals should speak with their doctor if they receive a positive result from any at-home test.