What is bacterial vaginosis?
Many women haven't heard of bacterial vaginosis, but it's actually one of the most common causes of abnormal vaginal discharge. Similar to thrush, bacterial vaginosis is an infection caused by an imbalance in the vagina.
When the delicate balance in the vagina is upset, it can cause some of the bacteria that naturally occur to proliferate, and at the same time reduce the number of friendly bacteria that are in residence.
The symptoms can vary from woman to woman but the first thing you'll notice may be a bit of a fishy odour around your genital area. It can seem to get worse during your period or after sex. Other symptoms include a watery discharge, which is usually greyish-white in colour. Bacterial vaginosis should not cause you any soreness or irritation.
How do you know you have BV?
The first thing you might notice is that you have a slightly fishy smelling grey-looking vaginal discharge, that seems to get worse after you have sex or sometimes just before a period.
If you think you might have BV, make an appointment to see your doctor. A simple swab test can confirm the diagnosis and make sure you know what you're dealing with. It's important to make sure and to get the infection treated, because although it's not serious in itself, if you have BV while you're pregnant and leave it untreated, it could increase your risk of miscarriage or premature labour.
What to do if you have BV
Once you've seen the doctor and you know you definitely have it, there are ways you can treat the infection, which the doctor will prescribe, and also ways you can help prevent the infection coming back again.
Like thrush, BV is exacerbated by too much washing. If you think you've detected a fishy smell, it's pretty natural that you'd want to try and get rid of it, but perfumed products can actually make it worse because they can alter the natural pH levels in the vagina. This makes it easier for the bacteria that cause BV to grow, and makes the problem even worse!
Rather than scrub with perfumed soaps and gels, ditch the soaps and bubble baths and try using a gel that's specially designed to help maintain a healthy vaginal pH.