Also known as Gardnerella Vaginalis, this infection can affect both genders but usually only women have symptoms. Around one in three women will experience BV at some point in their lives and in most cases, it is not serious.
It is unclear how BV is contracted as it is not strictly a sexually transmitted disease (STI), although it is common among women who are sexually active with men and/or women. It's caused by a change in the vagina's natural bacteria although why this happens is not completely understood.
Only around half of infected women have symptoms and these include a greyish, watery vaginal discharge and a foul smell, which is more noticeable after sex or during menstruation. Men can have BV in their urethra (pee tube) but it is largely symptom-free and so many men are unaware that they have it.
Women can test themselves quickly and easily with our discreet self-collection kit. Simply swab the vagina or simply dip your urine in the comfort of your own home. Test yourself once a year if in a stable relationship or two weeks after intercourse with a new partner.
BV is treated effectively with antibiotics, which can be taken in tablet form or as a gel applied to the vagina. If you are using an intrauterine device (IUD), you might need to remove this and use another form of contraception for the duration of the treatment.
BV can make you more susceptible to contracting STIs and can cause pelvic inflammatory disease. If you are pregnant or trying for a baby it is essential you are tested as BV can result in a premature birth, low birth weight or miscarriage.
You can reduce the risk of becoming infected with Bacterial Vaginosis and spreading the infection. How? Here are few simple ways to prevent you getting BV.
Use a condom - Although it is unclear if BV can be transmitted from men to women during sex, it is always wise to protect yourself during all sexual activity (vaginal, anal and oral) as having BV can raise the risk of getting infected with STIs. Use a male latex condom or a female polyurethane condom during sexual contact.
Be aware - Make sure you get checked regularly for BV, especially if you're aged between 15 and 44 as this is the group most at risk. Remember, it can be symptomless in around half of all women so you may not know you're infected. It only takes a few seconds to order your BV test online.
Limit your number of sex partners - Although BV is not fully understood, it is believed that having multiple sex partners can increase the risk of it developing.
Talk to your partner - A simple conversation before beginning a sexual relationship can help. Take your time and find out whether he or she is at risk of having BV. Talk to your partner about the risk factors, the benefits of regular screening, signs to look out for and the need to use condoms, even when you're not having penetrative sex. BV and STIs are more common when ignorance is higher so it pays to have some knowledge and share it with others.
Get tested regularly - If you are in stable relationship it is recommended to do a test at least once a year. If you have multiple partners you should test yourself two weeks after sexual activity with each one. Here at raTrust we can offer you various types of STI tests. You will be able to do your bacterial vaginosis test at home at a time and in an environment which is convenient for you. The whole process is very quick, discreet and you could know your results within 2-5 working days.
Avoid douching - Don't clean your vagina by showering, spray water or pharmacy-bought douches as this can upset the natural balance of bacteria, which can cause BV.
Watch your diet - Certain foods such as sugar, alcohol, chocolate and cheese may aggravate the bacteria imbalance in your vagina and make BV worse. Instead drink plenty of water and eat lots of fresh fruit.
Last updated April 17, 2018