• QuickPharm


BV is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI), but it can increase your risk of getting an STI such as chlamydia, This may be because BV makes your vagina less acidic and reduces your natural defenses against infection.


Bacterial vaginosis 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

A woman can pass it to another woman during sex.


.Most common symptom is unusual vaginal discharge that has a strong fishy smell, particularly after sex.

.You may notice a change to the colour and consistency of your discharge, such as becoming greyish-white and thin and watery.

.50% of women with bacterial vaginosis do not have any symptoms.

.Bacterial vaginosis does not usually cause any soreness or itching.


.Bacterial vaginosis is usually treated with antibiotic tablets or gels or creams.

.These are prescribed by a GP or sexual health clinic.

.If you have a same-sex partner, they may also need treatment.

Recurring bacterial vaginosis

It's common for BV to come back, usually within 3 months.

You'll need to take treatment for longer (up to 6 months) if you keep getting BV (you get it more than twice in 6 months).

A GP or sexual health clinic will recommend how long you need to treat it.

They can also help identify if something is triggering your BV, such as sex or your period.

Things you can do yourself

To help relieve symptoms and prevent bacterial vaginosis returning:


Use water and plain soap to wash your genital area.

Have showers instead of baths.


Do not use perfumed soaps, bubble bath, shampoo or shower gel in the bath.

Do not use vaginal deodorants, washes or douches.

Do not put antiseptic liquids in the bath.

Do not use strong detergents to wash your underwear.

Do not smoke.

Bacterial vaginosis in pregnancy

If you develop bacterial vaginosis in pregnancy, there's a small chance of complications, such as premature birth or miscarriage.

But BV causes no problems in the majority of pregnancies.

Speak to a GP or your midwife if you're pregnant and your vaginal discharge changes.


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