Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)

What is Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)?

This is the most common cause of an unusual vaginal discharge.

It is caused by an alteration / imbalance of the normal vaginal environment.

Douching / using vaginal deodorants or putting bubble bath / antiseptic liquids in the bath can make this more likely.

Smokers are also more prone to getting this.

Many women will have one episode of BV at sometime.

It is not sexually transmitted and so men can’t get it.

Not an STI…

Affects women only

Easily diagnosed in the clinic

Treated with a course of antibiotics

What are the symptoms?

Women / I have a vagina: A change in your usual vaginal discharge - thin and watery, white / grey colour with a strong, unpleasant, fishy smell, especially after sexual intercourse.

Bacterial vaginosis is not usually associated with soreness, itching or irritation.

How is it diagnosed?

Women who have had it before know the symptoms and the staff in sexual health clinics often can tell from the story that a women has this, however, to be more scientific:

A sample of the vaginal discharge is taken to look at under the microscope in the clinic – this is able to determine straight away whether or not the environment in the vagina is normal or has the BV bacteria there (there are lots of them- not just one type).

What is the treatment?

This is treated with an course of antibiotics (or if tolerated, a one off higher dose).

Sometimes we can use topical creams though often these aren’t as effective.

Over the counter, preventative treatment “gels” are available now which can be used to rebalance the pH of the vagina to try to stop the alteration happening.

Partners do not need treatment.

Useful information

For more information visit the FPA website.