Bacterial vaginosis (BV)

Bacterial vaginosis is a condition where your vagina makes a greyish discharge that can smell fishy.


What causes bacterial vaginosis?

A range of bacteria normally live in your vagina. BV is caused by an imbalance of the vagina's normal bacteria.

BV is not considered a sexually transmitted infection (STI) but it is more likely in women who:

  • are sexually active
  • have sex with other women
  • have a new sexual partner
  • have sex without a condom.

It is also more likely if you clean inside your vagina or douche.

How is bacterial vaginosis diagnosed?

Your doctor will take a sample from your vagina using a cotton swab and send this away to be tested in a laboratory.

How is bacterial vaginosis treated?

Antibiotics can help with the smell and discharge. These usually come as a tablet but can come as a cream (or suppository) that you put inside your vagina. Most women only need to take antibiotics for a week, but if you continue to have symptoms, you may need to take them for between four and six months.

Your sexual partners do not need to be checked or treated for BV.

Things to remember

  • Bacterial vaginosis can cause a greyish discharge with a fishy smell.
  • It is caused by a change to the balance of bacteria that live in your vagina.
  • It is often successfully treated with antibiotics.

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Disclaimer

The Women’s does not accept any liability to any person for the information or advice (or use of such information or advice) which is provided on the Website or incorporated into it by reference. The Women’s provide this information on the understanding that all persons accessing it take responsibility for assessing its relevance and accuracy. Women are encouraged to discuss their health needs with a health practitioner. If you have concerns about your health, you should seek advice from your health care provider or if you require urgent care you should go to the nearest Emergency Dept.

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