Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is an infection that occurs when the balance of the bacteria in the vagina becomes disrupted. The condition is not classified as a sexually transmitted infection (STI) but does sometimes develop after sex with a new partner.


  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Unpleasant ‘fishy’ smell
  • Pain during sex
  • Pain when urinating
  • Light vaginal bleeding
  • Sometimes no symptoms

What causes bacterial vaginosis?

BV occurs when there is an imbalance of good to bad bacteria in your vagina. Normally the vagina contains a bacteria called lactobacilli which produces an acid (lactic acid) to protect you against other bothersome bacteria. If BV develops it means the vagina is not as acidic as it should be because the balance of lactobacilli has dropped allowing other bacteria to grow.

The exact causes of BV are not clear but suggested triggers include new sexual partners, smoking, using strong detergents to wash underwear and using scented bath products.

How is bacterial vaginosis treated?

Before you treat Bacterial Vaginosis, you need to confirm that you have it. You can go to a sexual health clinic or your GP who will be able to do a swab to determine if you have BV. Alternatively Canesten offer a convenient test that you can do at home.

Once you are certain you have BV, you can buy over the counter home treatments. These may come in the form of a pill, a gel or a pessary. If you decide to use over the counter treatments, ensure you follow the instructions thoroughly.

Alternatively, if you have frequent bouts of BV or it doesn't go away, it can be treated with prescribed antibiotics. Usually an antibiotic called metronidazole is prescribed given either in tablet form or as a gel to be applied to the vagina.

Alternative Remedies & Self-help

Healthy eating and regular exercise will promote good general and good vaginal health.

Wear loose-fitting clothes to let air-circulate to prevent itching and chafing.

There is no current evidence to suggest live yoghurt is of benefit in treating BV.