Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a condition caused by overgrowth of normal vaginal bacteria. It is a common problem in women. It is not a sexually transmitted disease (STD) but it is caused by an imbalance in the vagina.
Causes of bacterial vaginosis
There is no known actual cause of bacterial vaginosis but there are several conditions that may result in the characteristic fishy feminine odor. Anything which changes the balance of bacteria in the vagina may cause it.
- Antibiotics – These are supposed to cure bacterial infections but may end up causing problems. Antibiotics kill both the bad bacteria and also the good ones that are needed for a healthy vagina. When the bad bacteia are killed off, this allows the bad bacteria to take over. The good bacteria, particularly lactobacillus, produce hydrogen perocide which releases oxygen into the vagina. This makes it difficult for the harmful bacteria to overgrow because they are anaerobic (they grow best where there is no oxygen).
- Having sex with many different partners may increase the chances of overgrowth of bacteria
- Having a new sexual partner
- Using an intrauterine device for contraception
- Vaginal douching – This can ultimately lead to bacterial vaginosis and that dreaded fishy feminine odor because it washes away the good bacteria. It also changes the pH (acidity) of the vagina.
In spite of this, even if you are a virgin or currently don’t have any sexual partners, you can still get bacterial vaginosis.
How do you feel when you have bacterial vaginosis? Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis
You may not have any symptoms or signs at all. The most common problems you may notice with bacterial vaginosis are:
- an increase in vaginal discharge
- vaginal discharge is greyish-white and thin in consistency
- a strong fishy feminine odor, there may also be a strong fishy smell after intercourse
- discomfort of the vaginal area including soreness of the vaginal opening, burning and itching