What is Bacterial Vaginosis?

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal condition in women of childbearing age. The condition is caused by several different organisms which alter the balance of naturally occurring bacteria in the vagina. Bacterial Vaginosis occurs when there are too many harmful bacteria.

How can I get Bacterial Vaginosis?

The cause of Bacterial Vaginosis is not clear. However, the condition is usually found in sexually active women. There are certain activities which can increase your risk of Bacterial Vaginosis, including:

  • Having sex with a new partner
  • Having sex with multiple partners
  • Using perfumed bodywash or vaginal deodorants
  • Douching.

You cannot get Bacterial Vaginosis from toilet seats, towels, bedding or swimming pools.

What are the symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis?

Around 50% of women do not experience any symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis.

When symptoms do occur, they can include:

  • An unusual thin, off-white or grey discharge
  • A strong ‘fishy’ odour, particularly after sex
  • Irritation and redness around the vagina
  • Burning during urination
  • Pain or burning in the vagina.

What are the risks of Bacterial Vaginosis?

Bacterial Vaginosis alone is not usually a major concern, but it can sometimes cause further complications. Having Bacterial Vaginosis can increase your risk of acquiring STIs such as Chlamydia and HIV. Bacterial Vaginosis can also increase the risk of developing Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), a condition which can lead to infertility.

In pregnant women, Bacterial Vaginosis can cause complications including preterm birth or miscarriage.

How is Bacterial Vaginosis treated?

Bacterial Vaginosis often clears up on its own. However, women who have symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis should be treated with a course of antibiotics to prevent complications. If you are experiencing symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis, you should contact your doctor who will prescribe the appropriate treatment.

Male partners do not typically require treatment for Bacterial Vaginosis.