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Have you got some questions? The answers you may be looking for live right here. Bacterial Vaginosis is manageable, speak to your healthcare professional about treatment options such as vaginal gels that may or may not be suitable for you.


A: Vaginal discharge is a normal, healthy part of being a woman. During a woman’s reproductive years, hormonal changes result in vaginal discharge that may be watery, mucus-like, or milky white, depending on the different phases of the menstrual cycle.5 However, if vaginal discharge occurs in large amounts, is thicker than usual, has an unpleasant smell or is accompanied by other vaginal symptoms such as itching or pain, it is considered abnormal.5
A: Abnormal vaginal discharge may be the sign of a vaginal infection.9 Many infections can result in serious complications – especially if you’re pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant.9
A: Bacterial Vaginosis is the most common vaginal infection associated with abnormal vaginal discharge.6 It is a bacterial infection of the vagina that causes a milky-white or grey cloudy discharge with an unpleasant [fishy] smell.5,6 Bacterial Vaginosis is sometimes accompanied by burning when urinating, itching outside the vagina, or both.8 Women with Bacterial Vaginosis may find that their vaginal discharge is more noticeable in the latter half of their menstrual cycle.11

A: Although the cause is not fully understood, Bacterial Vaginosis arises from an overgrowth of naturally occurring bacteria in the vagina.6,10 The vagina is a perfectly balanced eco system where bacteria called Lactobacilli maintain the acidic pH of the vagina.10 The acidic pH creates a hostile environment for other bacteria, helping to keep infection at bay.10 When the balance of the healthy bacteria is upset, the pH becomes more alkaline enabling other infection-causing bacteria to multiply.10

Bacterial Vaginosis can affect any woman. There are some activities or behaviours that can upset the normal balance of healthy bacteria in the vagina and put women at increased risk including smoking, douching7, having a new sex partner or multiple sex partners and times of stress.11,12

A: A healthy vaginal pH is below 4.5,10 which is acidic. The use of antibiotics, soaps, douching, smoking and even having sex can leave the vagina more alkaline, thus encouraging bacterial growth.5,7

A: If you answer yes to the following four questions, you may have Bacterial Vaginosis*:1,5,6

– Does the discharge have an unpleasant [fishy] smell?
– Is the amount of discharge more than usual?
– Is the discharge milky or grey and cloudy in colour?
– Is the discharge smooth and non-sticky?

Speak to your pharmacist or clinic sister to confirm your diagnosis and advise on the correct treatment for you.

*Your doctor will also be able to confirm whether you have Bacterial Vaginosis by performing a simple bed-side test.11 If the pH of the vagina is greater than 4.5 and the presence of the Lactobacilli is low, then it may point to Bacterial Vaginosis.2 A pap smear is not necessary as it isn’t suited to picking up Bacterial Vaginosis.2

A: One of the most serious complications of Bacterial Vaginosis is that it increases the chances of HIV infection by up to almost four times in women who have unprotected sex with HIV positive partners.7 It also increases the chances of contracting other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as trichomoniasis and chlamydial cervicitis.7

If left untreated, Bacterial Vaginosis may also lead to abnormal Pap smears, further infections and adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as pre-term labour 2,10,11,13 and miscarriage.11Bacterial Vaginosis has also been associated with endometritis, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and other complications.2,7

A: The established benefits of treating Bacterial Vaginosis in non-pregnant women include the relief of vaginal symptoms and signs of infection, plus a reduction in the risk for infectious complications.2 Other potential benefits include a lowered risk for infections such as HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.2
A: Yes, the recurrence of Bacterial Vaginosis is very common and has been reported to be as high as 70% over a period of nine months following initial diagnosis.10 Once you recognise the symptoms, manage the infection and treat it quickly.
A: Although Bacterial Vaginosis will sometimes clear up without treatment, all women with symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis should be treated to avoid complications. Bacterial Vaginosis is treatable with antibiotics prescribed by a doctor or over-the-counter treatments. Speak to your pharmacist or clinic sister about antibacterial gel available over the counter that is one of the preferred treatments by gynaecologists for the treatment of Bacterial Vaginosis4
A: Although treatments may not affect rubber or latex contraceptives, it’s recommended that you avoid sex during the treatment to ensure a speedy recovery.
A: Contact your doctor immediately if you are pregnant or have a vaginal discharge accompanied by any pain. You should also consult your doctor if you have already tried over- the- counter treatments without positive results; have had an adverse reaction to over-the-counter treatments; or if you have concerns about your treatment and/or condition.