Symptom Checker

BV and Your Body

Take control and get your confidence back

BV is estimated to occur in one in three women at some point in their lives. Sometimes there won’t be any noticeable symptoms of bacterial vaginosis, and it is often mistaken for thrush or a yeast infection. Symptoms of BV can include a lot of watery, even grey discharge and many women will notice a strong, fishy smell. Understanding what BV is and what can trigger it, as well as using a fast and effective BV treatment can help you to cope with recurrent BV before it affects your confidence.

It’s worth remembering that everyone’s body is different, and everyone will have a slightly different smell to their vaginal discharge. However, if you notice a fishy smell to your discharge, particularly if it is also more watery than usual, it could be BV. BV occurs when the delicate balance of micro-organisms in your vagina is upset– this could be from perfumed soaps, tight underwear, sex or douching among other things. For more information on the causes and symptoms of bacterial vaginosis, click here.

When we notice a bad smell, many of us reach for the flannel and soap, or perfumes and body washes. While this may mask the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis for a while, it’s not going to make BV go away – in fact it’s going to make it worse, as clerical officer Dionne Sealy found out:

“When I first noticed the symptoms of BV I had no idea what it was – I had never heard of it – so I thought it was thrush. It was worse on days when I was sitting down a lot but that was part of my job, and definitely worse after my period. I spent ages washing twice a day, carrying spare underwear in my bag, and using perfumes and sprays which I now know were making it a whole lot worse. At the time, I was really worried about the smell and that other people might notice – but by trying to mask it I was upsetting the balance down there and so my BV continued. Constantly worrying about the smell was making me feel anxious, especially at work. Now I know what BV is and that it affects so many women I’m confident enough to speak out about it.”

Some people, like Dionne can experience BV fairly regularly – this is called recurring BV, and taking antibiotics time and time again wasn’t going to work for her. A healthcare professional at her sexual health clinic suggested she try using Balance Activ to combat her BV and five years on Dionne still keeps Balance Activ to hand in case it flares up again.

“Now I understand what BV is I try to avoid the things that set it off for me when I can, but keeping some Balance Activ in the bathroom cupboard means I can quickly treat it if it does come back, so I don’t have to worry any more. In fact. I’m now working with Balance Activ on their Intimate Health Taskforce to help spread the word to other women about BV so that they know what to look for and how to treat it. Understanding your body gives you confidence to take control, and do something about it – BV can affect how you feel about yourself but it’s so easy to treat, it has made a huge difference to my confidence knowing I am in control.”