Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial Vaginosis Bacterial Vaginosis

What is Bacterial Vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis, also known as BV is a common infection that occurs in the vagina. Your vagina has its own unique pH level and balance of bacteria. Normally the good bacteria controls the growth and development of any bad bacteria within your vagina. However when this balance is disrupted BV can occur – it is a common and usually harmless infection, that many women experience. BV can be easily treated and your Pharmacist will be able to advise you on suitable treatments. Although the infection affects your genitals, and you can be more vulnerable to BV is you are sexually active, it is not deemed to be a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

What does a bacterial infection look like?

Many women can have bacterial vaginosis without realising it, as the infection causes few noticeable symptoms, if any at all. The unbalancing of the natural pH levels in your vagina can cause discharge and odours. To find out more about the specific signs of BV read our symptoms guide.

Can BV go away on its own?

If the infection is mild then BV may go away on its own in a few days, however this is not always the case and it can lead to health complications if left untreated. If you think that you might have BV or you are pregnant and think that you have BV then talk to your local Pharmacist, GP or nurse at your local sexual health clinic. They will be able to offer advice.

How can you keep from getting bacterial infections?

There are precautions that you can take to protect yourself against BV and other vaginal infections. Maintaining your overall heath as well as the health of your vagina can help you to avoid infection and the feelings of illness that are associated with these. It’s important to practise good feminine hygiene, and also getting to know your body can help you to spot the signs of infection. Many women experience vaginal discharge throughout their menstrual cycle, once you know what is normal for you it’s easier to spot when anything unusual has occurred.

Preventing BV:

  • Have showers instead of baths
  • Avoid using perfumed soaps to wash your genitals
  • Avoid using bubble baths or shower gels
  • Wear loose fitting cotton underwear
  • Use detergent that is gentle on skin when washing underwear
  • Avoid using vaginal washes, douches or deodorants

Smoking can also increase your risk of developing BV, as it affects the levels of bacteria within your body, and vagina. This can upset the sensitive balance within your body, making it easier for infections to occur.

Are thrush and BV the same thing?

Thrush and BV are both infections that affect women, and both occur when the natural balance within your body is disrupted. Thrush is caused by a yeast fungus, candida albicans, which lives in and on your body which usually causes no harm. However when your body comes under stress or the natural balance is disrupted these bacterium can multiply and grow out of control, which results in a yeast infection.Thrush and BV, although similar do present very different signs and symptoms, these can include discharge, smells and discomfort.

Sources

www.nhs.uk/conditions/bacterial-vaginosis

www.fpa.org.uk/sexually-transmitted-infections-stis-help/thrush-and-bacterial-vaginosis

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4161850

BV isn’t passed through sex, which means that you cannot pass it to your partner. However being sexually active can increase your risk of developing BV.

Avoiding perfumed soaps that may irritate your vagina and disrupt the natural balance of bacteria can help to stop you from getting BV.

It is completely natural to have vaginal odours, every woman is different and so everyone will have an odour that is unique to them. However if you notice that your vagina has a strong smell, then you may need to seek advice. Practising good feminine hygiene can help to keep your natural pH balance in harmony and your vagina healthy.