Women’s health

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) and vaginal infections

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal infection in women of childbearing age and is the main cause of abnormal vaginal discharge and odour. Although half of all cases are asymptomatic, BV can lead to serious complications if not properly diagnosed and treated.

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) and vaginal infections 

BV is not considered a sexually transmitted infection (STI) with male partners, but can be transmitted between female partners. Regardless of sexual orientation, BV is more common in women who are sexually active.

It is important to know that women suffering from BV have an increased risk of contracting HIV and STIs such as herpes, chlamydia and gonorrhoea through unprotected intercourse with an infected partner.

Symptoms of BV 

When discomfort is first felt, bacterial vaginosis is often confused with a yeast infection. BV is characterised by an abundant whitish or greyish discharge, which often has a “fishy” odour, especially after intercourse.

However, half of all women with BV have no symptoms. It is important to see a doctor when symptoms occur to be tested and properly diagnosed.

Causes of BV

The composition and balance of vaginal flora can be changed by various factors, such as age, stress, hormonal changes, overall health and sexual activity.  However, such changes do not necessarily result in the onset of a BV. Known risk factors associated with BV are the following:

  • Wearing an IUD
  • Using douches and other feminine hygiene products
  • Hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause
  • New or multiple sexual partners
  • Smoking

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) during pregnancy

Up to 30% of pregnant women experience BV due to increased hormone and blood sugar levels combined with decreased vaginal acidity. BV during pregnancy is associated with a significant number of complications, both by the mother and her baby such as the following:

  • Early labour and preterm birth
  • Low birth weight babies
  • Spontaneous abortions
  • Premature rupture of membranes
  • Infection of the placenta and uterine lining
  • Infection of caesarean section incisions
  • Post-operatory infections
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease

Currently, a test for BV is only recommended for pregnant women with symptoms or for all pregnant women with a high-risk pregnancy.

BV treatment 


Testing for BV is recommended before getting an IUD, having gynaecological surgery, or an abortion in order to prevent the infection from spreading to the uterus or the fallopian tubes which could result in a much more serious infection.

Antibiotics for BV

All cases of symptomatic BV should be treated by a doctor, who will usually prescribe an antibiotic in the form of a gel, cream or tablet.

Pharmacy services 

Up to 30 % suffer from recurring BV and its impact on their intimacy and general quality of life. By restoring the acidity of the vagina to its normal level, vitamin C prevents “bad” bacteria from multiplying and promotes the growth of “good” bacteria. Oral or vaginal antibiotics may also help to prevent BV from reoccurring. Don’t hesitate to discuss your options with your Accès pharma affiliated-pharmacist.

This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice and Accès pharma affiliated pharmacist-owners cannot be held responsible for this information. The information was true and accurate at the time of publication, but it is subject to change.

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