Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is an overgrowth of normal germs (bacteria) in the vagina, causing a characteristic smelly discharge.
Having a discharge from your vagina can be embarrassing. However, it's a very common symptom, and most of the time it doesn't mean you have a sexually transmitted infection (STI). In women of menstruating age, bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common cause of a vaginal discharge.
What is it?
Normally, we have a healthy and harmonious mix of germs (bacteria) in our bodies. In bacterial vaginosis (BV), the balance gets upset, and one type of bacteria in the vagina (called anaerobic bacteria) multiplies, whilst another type (called lactobacilli) dies off. This messes with the normal acid balance in the vagina. So generally speaking, you don't "catch" BV.
Did you find this information useful?
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- Bacterial vaginosis; NICE CKS, July 2014 (UK access only)
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- Vaginal discharge; NICE CKS, May 2013 (UK access only)
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