Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacteria Vaginosis (BV) is sometimes called non specific vaginitis or Gardnerella vaginitis.
BV is caused by an imbalance of normal bacteria that live in the vagina. Normal bacteria such as lactobacilli keep the vagina healthy, but when there is overgrowth of other bacteria they may cause symptoms such as a discharge or odour.
BV is not a sexually transmitted infection. It is not ‘caught’ from a sexual partner, it will not be ‘spread’ to sexual partners and treatment of partners does not tend to help.


It is common to have no symptoms but, if present, they may include a watery, grey discharge and a fishy odour.


BV is diagnosed by its whitish discharge, change in vaginal pH (acidity) and microscope examination. Swabs are also taken from the vagina to test for other causes of vaginal discharge including thrush, trichomoniasis and other STIs (sexually transmitted infections).

Causes of BV

The exact cause of BV is not known, but it is found more commonly in women who are sexually active, it often develops soon after intercourse with a new partner, and it can be associated with other sexually transmitted diseases.


Treatment is with antibiotic tablets.
BV is only treated when there are obvious symptoms, if you are about to have a medical procedure such as IUCD insertion or a gynaecological procedure, or if you are pregnant.
Male partners do not require treatment.

This page was last updated at 12:00PM on February 18, 2019.