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What should you know about at-home BV tests?

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Vaginal infections like bacterial vaginosis (BV) can be diagnosed and treated by a doctor. However, if you are unable to see a healthcare professional, you can use an at-home BV test. These over-the-counter testing kits can measure the pH levels in the vagina and give you an indication of whether or not there are any irregularities.

Using an at-home BV test is a discreet way of finding out if you have BV or if your pH levels are off. However, they aren’t a replacement for seeing a doctor and can instead be used as an alternative, or precursor, to seeing one.

If you test positive after using an at-home BV kit, you may want to see a healthcare professional for treatment.

Bacterial vaginosis is caused by an imbalance of bacteria in the vagina and is a common infection for people with vaginas. About 29.2 percent of women between ages 14 and 49 have had bacterial vaginosis before.

Vaginas contain many different types of bacteria that the body controls in order to maintain the right balance between each bacteria. Sometimes when the balance is upset, it may result in BV. Although it’s a pretty common condition, if not monitored it can lead to complications and increase your risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of BV don’t always show but when they do, they can include:

  • burning sensation while urinating
  • gray or white discharge
  • fishy-smelling discharge
  • itching and pain in the vulva

Strong-smelling vaginal discharge is one of the biggest symptoms of BV. For some, the odor may get stronger after unprotected sexual intercourse if semen mixes with the discharge.

The symptoms of BV are also similar to other vaginal disorders. If symptoms persist, it could be beneficial to see a healthcare professional for further advice.

Different at-home tests will provide specific instructions on how to test for BV.

Most generic at-home BV tests will involve testing the pH level of the vagina. This will mean inserting a specialized swab into the vagina and rotating it for several seconds before removing it.

After several seconds, the color of the swab will change and can be compared to the testing range provided. Depending on the color of the swab, it will inform you whether or not you have a vaginal infection such as BV.

Other at-home BV tests will require you to swab your vagina with the swab provided before sending it off for lab testing. The lab will then send you a detailed report on whether or not you have a vaginal infection, and what it is. These at-home tests will most likely provide more in-depth information on your sample.

To select some of the best at-home BV tests, we researched the different types of tests vagina-havers can use at home. It was important for us to consider certain factors, such as:

  • the price of the tests
  • how discreet the packaging is
  • how quickly you receive results
  • customer reviews and ratings

We also chose a mixture of generic at-home BV tests and lab-tested at-home BV tests.

Some tests will not tell you if you have BV specifically but rather will indicate whether the pH levels in your vagina are off. If you have reason to think you may have BV or another infection after taking a test, it’s best to seek additional consultation from a health professional.

Price guide

  • $ = under $50
  • $$ = $50–$100
  • $$$ = over $100

Best affordable at-home BV test

Natureland Vaginal Health pH Test Strips

Price: $

Natureland is an established dietary supplement and personal care company targeted at improving vaginal health and well-being.

These vaginal health pH strips are on the affordable end of options for those looking to do an at-home BV test.

Natureland Vaginal Health pH Strips test the pH levels in a person’s vagina to identify any abnormalities. Wrapped and sealed in aluminum pouches, each test will return results in approximately 20 seconds.

The company says the color of the strip will change depending on the pH levels in the vagina. They provide a scale on the bottle as an indication of a normal and abnormal pH balance.

The test can also be used to test for other vaginal disorders or yeast infections.

Pros

  • Includes more than 40 pH strips in each packet
  • Each test is individually packaged
  • Users will receive their results within 20 seconds

Cons

  • The test only tests for vaginal pH. This means that it won’t specifically test for BV, but will inform if there is a bacterial imbalance in the vagina that could be BV

Best at-home BV test with discreet packaging

myLAB Box BV Home Test

Price: $$

myLAB Box aims to offer at-home BV testing as discreetly as possible. You can order the test online and, once received in the mail, the test can be done and sent back with the prepaid shipping label.

Unlike other options on our list, this at-home test will provide you with concrete results. Within 2 to 5 days of sending your sample back, myLab Box will send digital results of whether or not you have BV.

According to the company, it takes approximately 5 minutes for sample collection. You’ll also receive a free doctor consultation to discuss results if they’re positive.

Pros

  • Testing packaging is discreet
  • Return postage is paid
  • Health experts work to decipher test results
  • Free physician telemedicine consultations are available if you’re positive
  • Labs are CAP and CLIA certified

Cons

  • You won’t receive test results immediately
  • There is only one test in the kit
  • Pricier in comparison to other options

Best at-home BV test for medical-grade testing

Walk-In Lab Vaginosis Profile

Price: $$$

The Walk-In Lab Vaginosis Profile uses the Nugent Scoring System. This score is calculated by assessing different factors within the vaginal profile and setting a range to determine whether or not someone has BV or another vaginal infection.

This at-home test is useful for anyone who is experiencing vaginal discomfort, vaginal discharge, or a persistent yeast infection. The test report will also outline if you have more than one vaginal infection.

Once you’ve ordered the test, the company sends the kit directly to a person’s home. After receiving the test and sending your sample, you’ll receive results within 6 to 8 days. The company states not to send it back on a Friday.

This test can tell you if you have other vaginal infections like:

Pros

  • This at-home test will test for multiple infections
  • Results are presented in a thorough report that details the bacterial vaginosis score, levels of bacteriology culture, specimen data, and more

Cons

  • Test results are not immediate
  • The price of the test is on the higher end

Best at-home BV test for quick results

FloriSense Women’s Vaginal Health Test

Price: $

The FloriSense Vaginal Health Test will test the pH in a person’s vagina to identify if there is an infection. Results are provided within 10 seconds of taking the test.

It uses a swab to test for BV. If the swab changes color, it will indicate whether or not you have certain infections, such as trichomoniasis (trich) or BV.

The box contains two swabs and detailed information and instructions.

Pros

  • Results are quick
  • Affordable price point
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • There is no specific diagnosis
  • It can present a false reading — the company says the test is 90% accurate but there is the possibility of a false positive

Easiest at-home BV test to use

CVS Health Feminine Screening Kit for Vaginal Infections

Price: $

This option from CVS Health is an affordable and easy way to help diagnose common vaginal infections. It’s recommended for those who are experiencing common symptoms from vaginal infections, such as abnormal discharge, itching, and burning.

Each package comes with two tests, detailed instructions on how to use them, and an explanation of what the results mean. The sample is a vaginal swab. If the entire swab turns yellow, this indicates that your pH level is normal. If just the tip turns yellow, this may mean that you have an infection.

Pros

  • Easy sample collection
  • Affordable
  • Fast results

Cons

  • Only provides information about pH levels
  • Can’t be used on vagina-owners who have pre-menopause symptoms or have gone through menopause
  • Shouldn’t be used one day before your period or 5 days after

TestBest forPriceCustomer rating (out of 5)Results time
Natureland Vaginal Health pH Test Stripaffordability$4.5 20 seconds
myLAB Box BV Home Test discreet packaging$$32-5 days
Walk-In Lab Vaginosis Profilemedical-grade testing$$$46-8 days
FloriSense Women’s Vaginal Health Testquick results$4.520 seconds
CVS Health Feminine Screening Kit for Vaginal Infectionsease of use$4.2within seconds

Choosing the right at-home BV test can depend on any symptoms or other medical issues you may be experiencing.

Some factors to consider may include:

  • how soon you’d like your results
  • how thorough or exact you need the test to be
  • whether or not you’d like discreet packaging
  • price

Some tests may require you to see a medical professional afterward for a more exact diagnosis. However, should your test indicate that your pH levels are off or you have some sort of vaginal infection, you should make an appointment with a healthcare professional as soon as possible.

If you’re diagnosed with BV, your doctor will most likely prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. Unfortunately, BV often returns after a few months.

However, there are a few steps you can take to help prevent BV from returning, such as:

  • paying attention to vaginal hygiene (the vagina is a self-cleaning organ, which means you don’t have to do much to keep it clean — you should avoid douching and scented vaginal products, wipe front to back, and change period products often)
  • wearing breathable underwear
  • using condoms during sex

If you have been diagnosed with BV or have found that BV has reoccurred, it is always best to see a medical professional to seek treatment. Should your at-home test results indicate that your pH levels are off or you have a vaginal infection, you should see someone.

Additionally, if you’re experiencing general discomfort or itching, burning, or unusual discharge, you should visit a healthcare professional.

Can I treat BV with over-the-counter medication?

You can treat BV with over-the-counter (OTC) medication. A pharmacist will also be able to recommend some depending on your specific case. Some common OTC treatments include:

  • metronidazole
  • clindamycin
  • tinidazole
  • secnidazole
  • probiotics
  • garlic
  • boric acid

How long does it take for BV to go away?

Occasionally, the infection will go away on its own. After being treated, BV will normally clear up within 5 to 7 days. If you are on medication and the infection continues, see a medical professional.

Can BV tests produce false positives?

Depending on the BV test, not all tests are 100 percent accurate. This means that some BV tests could produce a false positive. A false positive could return for a reason like low specificity. Results should be considered in the context of the person’s symptoms.

BV is a common and easily treatable vaginal infection. If a person with a vagina thinks they may have BV, it is easy and safe to use an at-home BV test to determine the results.

Once you receive your results, seeking treatment will help the person to fight the infection and get their vagina healthy and their pH levels stable again.


Emma Ruben is a freelance writer and copywriter based in Western Australia. She enjoys writing about wellness, mental health and social justice issues. When not writing about her favorite things, she loves to curl up with a good book or an even better reality TV show. You can find her on Instagram or through her website.