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Women’s health centre

Bacterial vaginosis - Symptoms of bacterial vaginosis

NHS Choices Medical Reference

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The main symptom of bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a change in your usual vaginal discharge.

Your discharge may:

  • become thin and watery
  • change to a white or grey colour
  • develop a strong, unpleasant, fishy smell, particularly after sexual intercourse

Other symptoms of BV can include:

  • pain during intercourse
  • pain when passing urine
  • some light bleeding from your vagina

BV does not usually cause itching or irritation.

Around half of all women with BV do not have any symptoms. This is known as asymptomatic BV.

If you do not have symptoms, there is no need to get tested to find out if you have BV as asymptomatic bacterial vaginosis does not pose a threat to health or pregnancy.

Bacteria

Bacteria are tiny, single-celled organisms that live in the body. Some can cause illness and disease, and some are good for you.

Vagina

The vagina is a tube of muscle that runs from the cervix (the opening of the womb) to the vulva (the external sexual organs).
Medical Review: January 03, 2012
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