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Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)

This condition is not an STI (sexually transmitted infection) however it is associated with sexual intercourse, it is not transmitted from one sexual partner to another, but is a condition where the ph of the vagina changes and allows an over growth of harmful bacteria often after sexual intercourse. The reason for this condition developing is at present unknown although certain situations seem to exacerbate it. The condition is often picked up at a GUM (Genito Urinary Medicine) clinic as women often believe they have contracted a STI.

Usually the ph of the vagina is within the region of 3.8 to 4.5 which is an acidic basis with the good bacteria lactobacillus making sure that the vaginal environment remains in balance. Bacterial Vaginosis occurs when the good bacteria are outnumbered by the organisms which can cause a variety of symptoms.


These include;-

  1. A thin grey-white  discharge

  2. The discharge has a fishy odour, especially noticed after sexual intercourse.

  3. Itching around the vulval area

  4. Pain or burning when urinating

Some women who have BV do not suffer from any of these symptoms.


You will be asked about your symptoms by the doctor at the Gum clinic or at your Family planning clinic/ GP surgery and you will also have a physical examination, a vaginal swab will be taken and the cells examined under the microscope. The ph of your vaginal secretions will also be tested and all the results will give the doctor a clear indication as to treatment.


Treatment is usually a course of antibiotics for women who present with  symptoms. For those who have no symptoms and are not troubled by the infection Bacterial Vaginosis can disappear without treatment. The vaginas ph balance is able to correct itself if the infection is not excessive and the sufferer does not have other underlying health problems. If surgery is immanent or if pregnancy is suspected antibiotic treatment will be commenced, as there are indications that BV can lead to Pelvic inflammatory disease and premature labour in pregnancy.


Thoughts are along the same lines as with all conditions where the ph balance of the vagina can be upset. Because of the fishy smell and discharge women often wash more than normal which can make the symptoms worse rather than better.

  1. Do not douche the vagina this upsets the ph balance

  2. If possible wear cotton underwear

  3. Avoid tight nylon underwear or trousers

  4. Do not leave tampons in place for long periods of time- i.e. not overnight

  5. Toilet hygiene wipe from front to back

  6. Wash daily but do not use highly perfumed products
  7. Eat a well balanced diet and exercise regularly
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