Bacterial vaginosis (BV) 

Unusual intimate odour and discharge? It could be Bacterial Vaginosis or BV. 

While you might have heard a lot of people talking about thrush, bacterial vaginosis is actually the most common cause of abnormal vaginal discharge among women of reproductive age. If you are a woman and between 15 and 45 years of age, you are in the group that’s most at risk of bacterial vaginosis (or BV in short). BV is the most common cause of vaginal infections, and fortunately can be easily treated. 

A healthy vagina is normally acidic, which helps prevent bad bacteria from growing and maintains the level of good bacteria called lactobacillus. If the pH balance becomes less acidic however, this can affect the health of your vagina. Different factors can affect the pH balance of your vagina, including getting your period, taking antibiotics, over-washing, using an IUD (intrauterine device) and semen if you have sex without condoms. The imbalance of your pH can be accompanied by overgrowth of anaerobic organisms that replace normal lactobacilli, causing BV. 

BV can increase your risk of getting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like chlamydia, although BV itself is not an STI. While you can still have sex if you have BV, you should also be careful as some treatments like creams and antibiotics can affect contraception. Sometimes, BV can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID, which can increase the risk of infertility.  

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Bacterial vaginosis symptoms

    One of the most common symptoms of bacterial vaginosis (BV) is odour, often described as ‘fishy-smelling’. Other symptoms can include: 

    • Watery vaginal discharge  
    • Greyish white vaginal discharge  
    • Worsening of the above symptoms after sex or during your period 

    Everyone is different, so you might have BV and not suffer from any symptoms at all. You should also remember that BV is not a sexually transmitted infection and it should not cause any soreness or irritation. 

    You should see your doctor if:  

    • You are suffering from BV symptoms for the first time 
    • You are pregnant 

    If you see your doctor or local sexual health clinic about a possible BV infection, they may prescribe you a medication like an antibiotic to treat it. 

    In pregnant women, there is a small risk that BV can result in going into early labour, so if you’re pregnant and have BV symptoms you should speak to your doctor. 

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    Bacterial vaginosis treatments 

    Bacterial vaginosis symptoms can be treated at home with an internal gel or pessary, which work by helping to regulate the pH balance of your vagina. 

    Products like Canesbalance BV Gel can help regulate the pH balance of your vagina. Canesbalance provides triple benefits: relieves the unpleasant odour immediately, regulates abnormal discharge and restricts the growth of bad bacteria whilst simultaneously supporting the growth of good bacteria. Canesbalance is a 7-day treatment, but you should notice reduced symptoms within 2-3 days. Thanks to handy and hygienic applicator tubes, Canesbalance BV gel is also convenient and easy to use. 

    Thrush vs. BV 

    Many women mistake BV for thrush, they do not have similar symptoms and causes are different. The six main signs of thrush are itching, burning, a white, cottage-cheese like discharge, redness, swelling and soreness. Typically, BV should not cause pain, while thrush may do. 

    BV is caused by a bacterial infection whereas thrush is caused by a yeast infection. You can find out which infection you may be suffering from in 10 seconds with our innovative and reliable Canestest self-test for vaginal infections and then help select the right treatment for whichever infection you’re suffering from. 

    Preventing bacterial vaginosis

    Canesten laundry detergent icon

    Avoid using strong detergent to wash your underwear. Also, change your underwear immediately after swimming or exercising.

    Canesten deodorant spray icon

    Do not over-wash and avoid using perfumed products and deodorants around your vaginal area

    Canesten tampon icon

    Change your tampons or pads frequently.

    Facts about BV

    Canesten pH drop icon

    The natural pH in your vagina is lower than 4.5, which means it is slightly acidic. A pH greater than 4.5 is considered alkaline and can be suggestive of bacterial vaginosis.

    Canesten yeast cells under microscope icon

    While BV can be mistaken for thrush, they are two different conditions that require a different treatment. When in doubt, you should consult your doctor for a diagnosis or give Canestest a try.

    Canesten vaginal douche icon

    Vaginal douching is known to cause BV, as it upsets the natural balance of your vagina, and can also increase the risk of STIs or other vaginal infections

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