Bacterial vaginosis

What is bacterial vaginosis? Causes, symptoms and treatment (2022)

Bacterial vaginosis is a common condition for women and comes from many different causes. The most common symptoms are greyish discharge with a fishy odor. For some, bacterial vaginosis can go away on its own, but it can also be treated if it does not. There are good treatment methods that you can read about below.

In this article you will get information about how a medical examination takes place, who should be treated, causes and symptoms. At the bottom you will also find frequently asked questions about bacterial vaginosis. If you have experienced bacterial vaginosis before and recognize the symptoms, you can get treatment through a digital form.

Self-service treatment 295,–

What is bacterial vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis, also called vaginal catarrh, is a condition characterized by increased discharge from the abdomen with a bad, unpleasant odor. This is the most common cause of increased discharge in women of childbearing age, affecting around 10-30% of these women.

Vaginal catarrh is not considered a sexually transmitted disease, but is due to an imbalance in the normal bacterial flora in the vagina. Normally the vagina is dominated by lactic acid bacteria, but in bacterial vaginosis the bacterial flora is changed so that other types of bacteria from the normal flora dominate.

How can Dr.Dropin help you?

Doctor's appointment 695,–
Your doctor will examine you and confirm if you have bacterial vaginosis. If this is the case, you will receive a prescription for treatment that you pick up at the pharmacy. All our doctors receive training from experienced specialists in women's health through our internal training program.

Self-service treatment 295,–
If you have experienced bacterial vaginosis previously and recognize the symtpoms, you can easily get treatment through a digital form. One of our skilled doctors will process your request shortly.

Gynecologist appointment 1195,–
If you want a gynecologist appointment, this includes consultation, guidance, examination with 2D ultrasound, tests, check of external genitalia, vagina and cervix. Ultrasound can examine the uterus and ovaries, look for muscle knots, tumors, hormonal influences and egg sacs. If necessary, the gynecologist also checks for sexually transmitted diseases, takes cell samples and orders blood samples. If you choose a gynecologist class, you will receive a full check and you can choose who you want to go to.

Read about our gynecologists here
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Causes of bacterial vaginosis

Causes of bacterial vaginosis include

  • Frequent sexual activity (however, the condition is also present in non-sexually active women)
  • Change of partner
  • The risk of infection seems to increase around the time of menstruation
  • Chlamydia infection also increases the risk of vaginal catarrh, due to a changed environment in the vagina

The use of hormonal contraceptives appears to reduce the incidence of bacterial vaginosis.

Symptoms when you have bacterial vaginosis

This is one of the most common symptoms of bacterial vaginosis

  • Increased amount of discharge from the vagina, thin liquid with white-gray color
  • The discharge has an unpleasant, fishy odor
  • The symptoms are often most pronounced after intercourse or during menstruation
  • About 50% of women do not have symptoms

How is the doctor's appointment?

The doctors at Dr.Dropin are experienced in treating symptoms in the genital areas, and it is recommended that you contact a doctor if you experience abnormal and/or smelly discharge, if you are pregnant, or if you experience that the treatment does not help.

The medical history and the examination of the disease often describe a good indication that it is bacterial vaginosis. The doctor will do an examination of the vagina where you can typically see a sticky, white-gray discharge. A brush sample is taken from the discharge which is tested for acid value (it is high, above 4.5), a substance is added which triggers the characteristic fishy odor ("sniff test"), and under the microscope one can see bacterial cells typical of this condition.

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Should I treat bacterial vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis is not dangerous, and often goes away on its own, but it is not uncommon for it to return. How long it lasts without treatment is individual and varies greatly, some get it back and forth over a long period of time, in others it passes within a week. Many people prefer treatment so that it can pass faster. It is recommended to be treated if you are planning to become pregnant or are pregnant. If you are not pregnant, it is not dangerous and you do not need to treat if you are not bothered. Female partners should also be treated, but male partners do not need to be treated.

Bacterial vaginosis during pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriage, premature ejaculation, premature birth and low birth weight, as well as infections in the uterine cavity after birth. The condition also increases the risk of infection during vaginal surgery. Therefore, it is recommended that pregnant women with bacterial vaginosis should be treated, and treatment is also given before gynecological procedures.

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How do you treat bacterial vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis can be treated with tablets, vaginal tablets or cream. It is important not to clean the vagina as this may disturb the natural balance of bacteria and increase the risk of infection. Further, it is recommended not to use soap in the genital regions. It is not uncommon that the symptoms may come back, requiring additional treatment. Partner(s) do not need to get treatment, but it may help using condoms for a period, as it is believed that the sperm may affect the natural vaginal balance.

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How to prevent bacterial vaginosis?

  • Condoms can be used during a period as it is believed that the partner's semen can cause an imbalance in the vagina. Try using a latex-free condom.
  • It is important not to wash away the lactic acid bacteria in the vagina with excessive washing, it can only aggravate the ailments. It is recommended that you avoid rinsing water into the vagina when showering and that you do not use soap (including intimate soap) in the vagina. The shower jet should always point downwards, and preferably wash with water only. If the skin becomes dry and sore, you can use a mild intimate oil without perfume. One wash a day is enough, not more frequent.
  • It may help to use lactic acid tablets (suppositories) purchased over the counter at the pharmacy to stabilize the natural bacterial flora in the vagina.

Frequently asked questions about bacterial vaginosis

Is bacterial vaginosis contagious?

No, it is not a contagious disease and is not considered a sexual transmitted disease.

Do I have to go to the doctor?

Not necessarily, if you have mild symptoms and are not pregnant it is good to see if it goes away on its own. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, however, it is important to see a doctor for treatment.

Do I need to see a doctor to confirm the condition?

Yes, to make a definite diagnosis the doctor must do an examination of the vagina and take a brush sample. The test does not hurt.

Does the treatment hurt?

No, it does not hurt. But local treatment (suppository or cream / gel) can cause local irritation of the mucous membranes and make you feel a little sore. Tablets you swallow may cause a slight stomach ache and some nausea in some cases.

More information on women's health

AbortionBreast cancerCervix exam and pap testContraceptivesGynecologyHPV-vaccineNIPTPolycystisk ovariesyndrom (PCOS)UltrasoundUrinary Tract InfectionEndometriosis

Author: GP Anne Marte Ladim
Last updated: 21.06.2022