WHAT IS BACTERIAL VAGINOSIS (BV)?

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common cause of unusual vaginal discharge. BV is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI), but it can increase your risk of getting an STI such as chlamydia.

WHAT CAUSES BACTERIAL VAGINOSIS?

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is caused by a change in the natural balance of bacteria in your vagina. What causes this to happen is not fully known, but you're more likely to get it if:

  • you're sexually active (but women who have not had sex can also get BV)

  • you have had a change of partner

  • you have an IUD (contraception device)

  • you use perfumed products in or around your vagina

 

BV is not an STI, even though it can be triggered by sex.

A woman can pass it to another woman during sex.

 

You're more likely to get an STI if you have BV. This may be because BV makes your vagina less acidic and reduces your natural defences against infection.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

Half of people with BV will not experience any symptoms.

However, the most common symptom is unusual vaginal discharge. This discharge can have a strong fishy smell (particularly after sex) and can be white or grey and watery.

BV does not cause itchiness or soreness and if those symptoms develop, there may be another condition affecting the vagina.

HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED?

The condition is not usually serious, but you'll need to be treated with antibiotics if you do have BV.

It's also important to seek treatment if you're pregnant as there's a small chance that BV can cause complications with pregnancy.

 

We may be able to diagnose BV by a description of your symptoms and by examining your vagina. We can also take a swab of your vaginal discharge to confirm if it is BV. 

 

If we take a swab, we will be in touch within 1 - 2 weeks with your results. If your test result is negative you will be texted. If you are positive, you will be invited into the clinic to arrange your treatment.  

If for any reason, you do not hear from us 2 weeks after visiting the drop centre, then please get in touch with us. 

WHAT TREATMENT IS AVAILABLE?

BV will be treated with a course of antibiotics. If you have a same sex partner, they may also need to get tested. You should not have sex until you and your current sexual partner have finished treatment.

It's important that your current sexual partner and any other recent sexual partners you have had are also tested and treated.

HOW TO PREVENT BACTERIAL VAGINOSIS?

To help relieve symptoms and prevent bacterial vaginosis returning:

  • Use water and plain soap to wash your genital area

  • Have showers instead of baths

 

Avoid:

  • perfumed soaps, bubble bath, shampoo or shower gel in the bath

  • vaginal deodorants, washes or douches 

  • antiseptic liquids in the bath

  • strong detergents to wash your underwear

  • smoking can change the PH of your vagina