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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?

A GP will be able to take a swab to determine if you have BV (or you can get a diagnosis via a sexual health clinic instead).

The condition is easily 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.