Bacterial vaginosis or BV is an imbalance of the vaginal flora. This is one of the most common vaginal infections amongst women. There is a widespread belief that bacterial vaginosis is an STD, this is however not the case. BV also occurs in women who are not having sexual intercourse or who have been with the same partner for years. Also, bacterial vaginosis cannot transmitted between persons.
Bacterial vaginosis is an outgrowth of harmful bacteria. In a healthy vagina, these harmful bacteria are kept in check by the low vaginal pH that is created by lactic acid produced by the good lactobacilli flora. The vaginal pH can however increase (the acidity is reduced), for instance by reduction in the numbers of lactobacilli due to antibiotic treatment, or by neutralization of the low pH by alkaline sperm. In this situation, the harmful bacteria may take the opportunity to grow and cause vaginal complaints..
The most common symptoms of bacterial vaginosis include changes in discharge (often discharge will be white or grey, foamy) changes in odour (usually strong fish-like), burning while urinating, itching and irritation in the vaginal area. Some of these symptoms resemble signs of thrush, so correct diagnosis is very important prior to starting the appropriate therapy.