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Bacterial Vaginosis

Symptoms and treatment options for bacterial vaginosis

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Dr Hilary Jones discusses bacterial vaginosis and the treatments available at HealthExpress
Want to find out about our available treatments and their prices? Click to start your Free Online Consultation for bacterial vaginosis now.

Bacterial vaginosis, also known as BV or gardnerella vaginalis, is the most common type of vaginal infection in women and is caused by a combination of different bacteria. It is more common in sexually active women, although it's not directly transmitted through sexual intercourse. If this infection is left untreated, it may increase a woman's risk of developing a uterus infection or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and may increase the risk of contracting other STIs.

Bacterial vaginosis can easily be treated with a dose of antibiotics, such as Metronidazole, which can be prescribed to you online by a registered doctor, after you have taken an online consultation. The details you provide us will be used to make sure this treatment is suitable for you.

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What are the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis symptoms are often overlooked as they are usually not painful or uncomfortable. In fact, around 50% of women with BV do not experience any symptoms at all. This can be defined as asymptomatic BV.

The most common symptom of bacterial vaginosis is an abnormal white vaginal discharge, which may appear after sexual intercourse. This vaginal discharge can also carry an unpleasant fish-like smell.

Bacterial vaginosis usually coats the walls of your vagina, which can often go undetected. However, there are other noticeable symptoms. Your discharge will become thin and watery and you may experience pain during intercourse or when passing urine.

What causes bacterial vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis is not caused by one single germ, but from an overgrowth of various bacteria in the vagina, and is passed on in some women as a result of their genetic makeup. This overgrowth upsets the vagina's natural balance and causes an increase of discharge along with an unpleasant smell. Contrary to popular belief, bacterial vaginosis is not caused by poor hygiene. In fact, excessive washing of your vagina can alter the normal balance of bacteria, which may increase the chances of developing bacterial vaginosis. Smokers, women in same sex relationships and women who have recently changed sexual partners are more at risk of suffering from bacterial vaginosis.

Other causes of bacterial vaginosis include using scented soaps or perfumed bubble bath, putting antiseptic liquids in the bath, douching, using vaginal deodorant and using strong detergents to wash your underwear.

Can I get tested for BV?

If you notice any abnormal discharge from your vagina, then you should contact your doctor, who will provide tests that are designed to detect the bacteria. In most cases, your local GP or sexual health specialist will use a swab to pick up samples of discharge and cells from the walls of your vagina. Your doctor may be able to detect the bacteria straight away but, often, the sample is sent away to a laboratory, where they will test the pH levels of the swab and send the results back within two weeks.

What are the risks of bacterial vaginosis?

Untreated bacterial vaginosis can lead to serious health complications, so it's crucial that you get treatment as soon as possible. If you do not treat bacterial vaginosis, you may experience complications during pregnancy and your risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) may be increased. You may also be particularly vulnerable to more sexually transmitted infections including HIV.

Finding treatment

Bacterial vaginosis can easily be treated with antibiotics. Metronidazole can be taken either as a 7-day course or as a stronger dose treatment, which only needs to be taken once. Both options work effectively to treat bacterial vaginosis, however, there is an increased risk of experiencing more mild side effects if you take a stronger antibiotic treatment. You should always take the full course of antibiotics, even if your symptoms of bacterial vaginosis disappear before you finish the course.

Obtaining treatment from us could not be easier and will take minutes.

Step 1 - Simply complete our online consultation which will be reviewed by one of our registered UK doctors. View the medical questions here

Step 2 - They will be able to recommend a range of beneficial treatments. You will receive a diagnosis in a secure email.

Step 3 - If deemed suitable, you will have the access to login, directly to your personalised member's area, from where you will be able to place your order and receive it the next working day.

Taking an online consultation

If you have tested positive for bacterial vaginosis, click on the button below to take an online consultation. This will help our doctor to determine which prescription treatment is right for you. After you have completed an online consultation, one of our doctors will be able to evaluate your condition and make the appropriate treatments available to you. Once you've made your choice, our doctor will send a prescription to our pharmacy, which will prepare and dispatch your medication for fast overnight delivery.

Dr Hilary Jones, HealthExpress Medical Advisor

What should I do if I experience Bacterial vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis is a common vaginal infection that can develop as a result of sexual intercourse. It mainly affects women and doesn't always cause symptoms.

Click here to find the right treatment for you