What is Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)?

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.

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
Lady in baseball hat

Something fishy going on?

One of the most common symptoms of bacterial vaginosis (BV) is odour, often described as ‘fishy-smelling’. Click here to learn about other symptoms.

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