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.
Further reading and references
Management of bacterial vaginosis; British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (May 2012)
Bacterial vaginosis; NICE CKS, July 2014 (UK access only)
Brotman RM, Ghanem KG, Klebanoff MA, et al; The effect of vaginal douching cessation on bacterial vaginosis: a pilot study. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2008 Jun198(6):628.e1-7. Epub 2008 Mar 4.
Oduyebo OO, Anorlu RI, Ogunsola FT; The effects of antimicrobial therapy on bacterial vaginosis in non-pregnant women. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009 Jul 8(3):CD006055. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006055.pub2.
Brocklehurst P, Gordon A, Heatley E, et al; Antibiotics for treating bacterial vaginosis in pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Jan 311:CD000262. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD000262.pub4.
Sexually Transmitted Infections in Primary Care; Royal College of General Practitioners and British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (Apr 2013)
Senok AC, Verstraelen H, Temmerman M, et al; Probiotics for the treatment of bacterial vaginosis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009 Oct 7(4):CD006289.
Evans AL, Scally AJ, Wellard SJ, et al; Prevalence of bacterial vaginosis in lesbians and heterosexual women in a community setting. Sex Transm Infect. 2007 Oct83(6):470-5. Epub 2007 Jul 4.
Vaginal discharge; NICE CKS, May 2013 (UK access only)
I thought I had BV for 3 years. I’m 23 years old now and have suffered. In the beginning I was having sex with a guy who wasn’t very hygenic. That being said, I think that had a lot to do with the...kayla23
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