Bacterial vaginosis (BV) in women
What is bacterial vaginosis (BV)?
- BV is the most common cause of an abnormal vaginal discharge.
- It is caused by an upset in the delicate balance of bacteria in the vagina.
- The ‘good’ bacteria (lactobacilli) are replaced with an overgrowth of anaerobic bacteria.
- It is not sexually transmitted
How common is BV?
- BV is very common in women particularly sexually active women.
- It occurs more frequently in black women, smokers and women with an IUD (coil).
How do you catch BV?
- Women don’t catch BV – it is an overgrowth of anaerobic bacteria naturally present in the vagina.
- Factors that make the vagina alkaline (the healthy vagina is mildly acidic) may trigger BV in some women:
- Use of irritant skin products such as bubble baths, shower gels, perfumed soap, Dettol or other antiseptics and feminine cleaning products.
- Sexual intercourse and semen
- Heavy or prolonged periods.
What would I notice if I had BV?
- Many women (up to 50%) with BV will not notice anything wrong.
- Others may notice an unpleasant fishy smelling discharge, which, is worse after sex.
How do I get tested for BV?
- A vaginal swab – this is looked at directly under the microscope at the Wolverton Centre to give an immediate result.
How is BV treated?
- In women with symptoms treatment is:
- METRONIDAZOLE 400mg tablets twice daily for 5 days
- METRONIDAZOLE 2g single dose
- CLINDAMYCIN 2% vaginal cream once daily for 7 days
- Avoid alcohol whilst taking metronidazole and for 48 hours following completion.
- Treatment is safe during pregnancy.
- Clindamycin vaginal cream can weaken rubber condoms – if necessary avoid sex during treatment to prevent pregnancy.
- Avoid douching and all soaps, shower gels and bubble baths – use aqueous cream to wash with instead.
What about my partner?
- BV is not a sexually transmitted infection.
- BV does not affect men.
What problems can untreated BV lead to?
- BV will get better without treatment.
- There is evidence to indicate that treating BV prior to termination of pregnancy will reduce the risk of developing pelvic or uterine infection post operatively.
BV in pregnancy
- BV may be associated with late miscarriage and premature delivery – but the evidence is not clear cut.
- Women with symptomatic BV in pregnancy should be treated in the usual way with antibiotics.
Will BV come back again after treatment?
- BV frequently recurs often for no apparent reason.
- If this is troublesome ask the clinic doctor or nurse for a referral to the specialist clinic at the Wolverton Centre.