Bacterial vaginosis (BV) occurs when there's a change in the natural balance of bacteria in your vagina.
Your vagina should contain bacteria called lactobacilli, which produce lactic acid. This makes the vagina slightly acidic, which prevents other bacteria from growing there.
Women with BV tend to have a temporary shortage of lactobacilli, which means their vagina isn't as acidic as it should be. This allows other types of bacteria to grow.
It's still unclear what causes this change, although your risk is increased if you:
For reasons that are unclear, BV is more common in black women than in other ethnic groups.
BV isn't generally considered a sexually transmitted infection (STI) . However, there's conflicting evidence on the subject.
Evidence that suggests BVmay be an STI includes:
There's also evidence that women with BV can pass the condition to women they have sex with, although how this happens is still unclear.
However, there's also evidenceto suggest BV may not be an STI, as:
Many experts think sexual activity plays a role in BV, but other factors are probably also responsible for the condition.
Bacteria are tiny, single-celled organisms that live in the body. Some can cause illness and disease, and some are good for you.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
STIs are diseases passed on through intimate sexual contact, such as vaginal, oral or anal sex.
The uterus (or womb) is a hollow, pear-shaped organ in a woman where a baby grows during pregnancy.
The vagina is a tube of muscle that runs from the cervix (the opening of the womb) to the vulva (the external sexual organs).
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common yet poorly understood condition, in which the balance of bacteria inside the vagina becomes disrupted. BAround half of women with bacterial vaginosis have no symptoms.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) occurs when there's a change in the natural balance of bacteria in your vagina. Women with BV tend to have a temporary shortage of lactobacilli, which means their vagina isn't as acidic as it should be.
See your GP or visit a sexual health or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic as soon as possible if you have any abnormal discharge from your vagina. It's important to determine whether you have bacterial vaginosis (BV) or a similar condition.
Bacterial vaginosis (BV) can be treated successfully with antibiotics. There's currently no evidence that probiotics, such as those found in some yoghurts, are able to treat or prevent BV.
For the vast majority of women, bacterial vaginosis (BV) is easily treated and doesn't cause any further problems. However, if the condition isn't treated, there's a small risk you may develop complications.
Helen had two episodes of bacterial vaginosis (BV) a few months apart. Now that she's been given the all-clear, she wants to encourage other women to seek treatment.