Bacterial vaginosis ( BV) can be one of the causes of vaginal discharge and is a common infection in women between 15 – 44 years old. One of the common symptoms is that the discharge has an odour that is ‘fish’ like and offensive.  The discharge tends to be thin and white or pale grey in colour and the odour noticeably worse after intercourse. This is due to the reaction that occurs when the semen reacts with the bacteria. Few women will have vaginal itching or soreness but is not unheard of. Between 50 – 75% of women with BV will not know they have it.

BV is caused by an in balance between Lactobacilli ” good” bacteria and anaerobes ” bad” bacteria that are present naturally in the vagina. If the Lactobacilli are lower in numbers, the Anaerobes may increase, causing an overgrowth of these ” bad’ bacteria, potentially causing BV.  Antibiotics, vaginal medications, unprotected intercourse, douching and bubble baths can contribute to the reduction in Lactobacilli.

In pregnancy, BV may be detected from a urine test that is being investigated for a different reason, or a vaginal swab. It is not routinely screened for. Symptomatic women may be treated with an antibiotic regime or topical treatment.  It may resolve on its own and can come and go. In most cases, BV will not cause any complications however, with there being a small risk of complications in pregnancy due to BV, if you have any abnormal changes in your vaginal discharge, it is important to discuss with your midwife or GP.

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