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It could be bacterial vaginosis

What is bacterial vaginosis? 

Bacterial vaginosis is an infection which affects women and is caused by bacteria which normally lives in the vagina. When the amounts or types of these bacteria change or increase, it causes an infection. Certain factors like vaginal douching and having unprotected sex may increase your risk of getting bacterial vaginosis. Vaginal douching is when you use feminine hygiene products to wash inside your vagina.

What does bacterial vaginosis look like? 

If you have bacterial vaginosis it can cause:

  • A bad smelling discharge which is often “fishy-smelling”. 
  • A discharge which is watery and grey or off-white.
  • Burning or itching of the skin around the vagina and burning during urination.
  • Pain during vaginal sex.

Not all infections are sexually transmitted, but it is not always easy to tell the difference. It is important that you and your partner see a healthcare provider if you experience any symptoms so you can get examined and treated for all infections. Remember to avoid having unprotected sex as much as possible when you have physical signs or symptoms that might be from an infection.

How do I test for bacterial vaginosis?

It is usually diagnosed by a healthcare provider examining you. They may take a sample of the fluid in the vagina and send it to the lab for testing, but this is not routinely done in South Africa. 

How is bacterial vaginosis treated?

It is usually treated using antibiotics. Seek care as soon as possible if you have any symptoms or if you are concerned!

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