Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)

What is it?

BV is a common infection found mainly in the vagina, though it can also infect the penis. A penis infected with BV will have NO symptoms but can be a carrier (this means it can infect others). It begins when certain bacteria in the vagina multiply out of control.

How do I get it?

Most of the time, BV is caused when the balance in the vagina is upset. This can be because of stress, douching, using scented soaps, or synthetic (not cotton) underwear. It’s also possible to get it from a partner.

What should I be looking for?

The most common symptom is a thin, greyish discharge that gives off a strong fishy odour, especially after intercourse. Some people have no symptoms at all and only find out they have BV when they visit their doctor or nurse for a checkup.

How do I get tested?

At a clinic or health care provider’s office, a swab is taken from the vagina. The swab is placed on a slide, which is then put under a microscope.

Can I get rid of it?

Not all people with BV require treatment, but you can get a prescription for antibiotic pills if BV is causing unpleasant symptoms, or:

  • if you are having an IUD inserted;
  • if you are going to have gynaecologic surgery or an abortion; or
  • if you are pregnant and have a history of preterm delivery.