Bacterial Vaginosis is not an STI

Bacterial Vaginosis is a common condition that affects about 1 in 3 women during the course of their life. Yet it is rather poorly understood and not well known among most women.

Half of the women who have Bacterial Vaginosis do not notice any symptoms. However, of those who do notice symptoms, a grey, fishy smelling discharge from the vagina is most commonly reported. In some cases the discharge can also become watery. Another symptom is experiencing pain when passing urine or during intercourse.

Due to the symptoms, bacterial vaginosis often becomes confused with STIs. However, it is caused by imbalance in bacteria around the vagina and can be present in women who are not sexually active. Generally, there are both so-called good and bad bacteria in this region and when the bad bacteria outnumber the good bacteria, an inflammation in the vagina results in the changes in discharge.

Although bacterial vaginosis is not classified as an STI, it can still develop via intercourse with a new partner. Risk factors for developing it include the use of vaginal deodorant, scented soap or bath bubbles and wearing underwear that has been washed in strong detergents. Factors such as multiple sexual partners and smoking also increase the risk of developing bacterial vaginosis.

Bacterial vaginosis can be treated with Metronidazole, which is an antibiotic in the form of tablets. Alcohol should not be consumed during the treatment or 48 hours after finishing the treatment as it may cause side effects.

It is not uncommon for symptoms to reoccur within six months, and a retest is recommended if the symptoms return or do not go away after treatment. Pregnant women need to be retested after treatment regardless of whether or not they are experiencing symptoms, as bacterial vaginosis poses a risk in pregnancy.


One of the online testing websites that we have recommended is now offering a specific test to assess vaginitis symptoms. This test will look for signs of Bacterial Vaginosis other than just Gardnerella Vaginalis. The screen includes two vaginal swabs: one is a PCR swab for Gardnerella and Trichomonas and the other is a High Vaginal Culture and Microscopy that looks for clue cells and white blood cells, that may indicate an infection. The lab will be able to culture any bacteria and yeasts and will also look for Mycoplasma and Ureaplasma, two common causes of vaginitis. This is the only online service offering this particular screen with results in 2 days and treatment prescribed if necessary. Please see the testing page of our webiste furth further details.