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Bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis is a common condition that often causes smelly vaginal discharge.

Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include white and watery vaginal discharge that often has a strong fishy smell.

Bacterial vaginosis is usually treated with antibiotics from a GP or sexual health clinic.

You're more likely to get bacterial vaginosis if you're sexually active, have an IUD or use perfumed products around your vagina.

Read more on the NHS website.

Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include white and watery vaginal discharge that often has a strong fishy smell.

Check if you have bacterial vaginosis

The most common symptom of bacterial vaginosis is unusual vaginal discharge that has a strong fishy smell, particularly after sex.

You may notice a change to the colour and consistency of your discharge, such as becoming greyish-white and thin and watery.

But 50% of women with bacterial vaginosis do not have any symptoms.

Bacterial vaginosis does not usually cause any soreness or itching.

Read more on the NHS website.

Bacterial vaginosis is usually treated with antibiotics from a GP or sexual health clinic.

Medical treatments

Bacterial vaginosis is usually treated with antibiotic tablets or gels or creams.

These are prescribed by a GP or sexual health clinic.

If you have a same-sex partner, they may also need treatment.

Recurring bacterial vaginosis

It's common for BV to come back, usually within 3 months.

You'll need to take treatment for longer (up to 6 months) if you keep getting BV (you get it more than twice in 6 months).

A GP or sexual health clinic will recommend how long you need to treat it.

They can also help identify if something is triggering your BV, such as sex or your period.

Self-care

To help relieve symptoms and prevent bacterial vaginosis returning:


Do

  • use water and plain soap to wash your genital area
  • have showers instead of baths

Don't

  • do not use perfumed soaps, bubble bath, shampoo or shower gel in the bath
  • do not use vaginal deodorants, washes or douches
  • do not put antiseptic liquids in the bath
  • do not use strong detergents to wash your underwear
  • do not smoke

Read more on the NHS website.

You're more likely to get bacterial vaginosis if you're sexually active, have an IUD or use perfumed products around your vagina.

Read more on the NHS website.