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.