What is Bacterial vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) may sound scary, but it's very common and easily treated.  

For more information, read the guide:  

Bacterial Vaginosis Guide +

What is Bacterial vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) may sound scary, but it's very common and easily treated.

If you do get BV, remember you’re not alone. BV is the most common cause of vaginal infections in women of childbearing age. 

Bacterial vaginosis or BV is caused by an imbalance of the normal bacteria in the vagina, resulting in an increased pH level which then allows other types of bacteria to grow. BV does not usually cause any vaginal soreness or itching but it often causes unusual vaginal discharge and odour. 

Normally, there is a delicate balance between different bacterial species that live naturally within the vagina. Your vagina is normally acidic, which helps prevent bad bacteria from growing and maintains the level of good bacteria called lactobacillus. If the pH balance becomes less acidic, however, this can affect the health of your vagina.

The imbalance of your pH can be accompanied by overgrowth of anaerobic organisms that replace normal lactobacilli, causing BV. Different factors can affect the pH balance of your vagina, including getting your period, taking antibiotics, over-washing, using an IUD (intrauterine device) and semen if you have sex without a condom.

Something fishy going on? One of the most common symptoms of bacterial vaginosis (BV) is odour, often described as ‘fishy-smelling’.

Pregnancy and BV 

Pregnancy can cause an increase of bad bacteria in your intimate area, and lead to problems like a BV infection. If you’re pregnant and you have BV visit your doctor to discuss how to manage it. It’s best to get checked out as BV can cause complications such as: 

- Pelvic inflammatory disease 

- Increased risk of miscarriage 

- Increased risk of premature labour

Treatment for Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) 

If you’ve been diagnosed by your doctor and you know you have bacterial vaginosis (BV), you can use an internal gel to treat the symptoms of the infection. Some products, such as Canesbalance or Relactagel, work by helping to regulate the pH balance of your vagina:

- Relieve unpleasant odour and abnormal discharge

- Restrict the growth of bad bacteria

- Support good bacteria to restore the natural environment

Thrush vs. BV vs. Trichomoniasis 

Many women mistake BV for thrush, but the symptoms and causes are different. BV is caused by a bacterial infection whereas thrush is caused by a yeast infection. 

Symptoms can also be confused with Trichomoniasis, one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases that occurs as a result of infection with a protozoan parasite called trichomonas vaginalis. Find out more about this condition here. 

Preventing Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) 

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is caused by many different factors- such as taking antibiotics or using regular soaps for the intimate area- so many women find they suffer from BV. Have a look below for our top tips on how to prevent BV. 

Top tips for preventing BV infections: 

- Avoid using deodorants or perfumed products in and around your vaginal area

- Avoid over-washing 

- Avoid using strong detergent to wash your underwear 

- Change your tampons or pads frequently 

- Ensure you wipe from front to back after going to the toilet 

- Dry your vaginal area after washing, swimming & working out 

- Change your underwear after swimming & working out 

- Don't douch : Vaginal douching is a cause of BV and may even increase your risk of STIs or other vaginal infections.