Bacterial vaginosis: All you need to know about this ‘silent’ infection

You are more likely to get an STI if you have BV which presents no symptoms in some cases.

Vaginas, by their very nature, have bacteria in them; that’s just how they’ve been designed. However, any change in the balance of the various kinds of bacteria found in the vagina, could cause an infection called bacterial vaginosis.


Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is quite common among women, with those in their reproductive years more likely to experience it. This infection results in unusual vaginal discharge as a result of an overgrowth of the bacteria found naturally in the vagina. According to the Mayo Clinic:

Usually, "good" bacteria (lactobacilli) outnumber "bad" bacteria (anaerobes). But if there are too many anaerobic bacteria, they upset the natural balance of microorganisms in your vagina and cause bacterial vaginosis.

BV is not an STI, but having this infection could increase the risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection such as chlamydia. The exact causes of bacterial vaginosis are not known, but certain activities such as douching, multiple sexual partners and insufficient production of the ‘good’ bacteria in the vagina.

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Half of women with bacterial vaginosis do not show any symptoms, but those who do report having unusual vaginal discharge that has a pungent fishy smell, especially after penetrative sex.

For some people, the colour and consistency of natural vaginal discharge changes to thin and watery greyish-white substance.

Coupled with these, some people experience itchiness or soreness in their genitals, while others may get burning sensations when urinating.

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Although this is quite common, you may want to see a doctor if you develop this condition after changing sexual partners, as symptoms may be similar to some STI’s. You might also require medical examination if symptoms persist after treating yeast infection with over-the-counter medication. According to the NHS:

It's also important to seek treatment if you're pregnant as there's a small chance that BV can cause complications with pregnancy.
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