Do You Recognize These 5 Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis?

Did you know that the majority of women don't know the early signs and symptoms of bacterial vaginosis until it's too late?

It is very important for your overall health to be aware of the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis.

At the first sign of symptoms, take action to correct the bacterial vaginosis.

5 Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis to Watch For

  • Abnormal vaginal discharge, usually white or gray
  • Vaginal discharge is thin
  • Strong fish-like odor, especially after intercourse
  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Itching around the outside of the vagina

Vaginal Discharge

The vaginal discharge will be there day and/or night time. It will be seen on your panty liner or on your underwear if you don’t wear a panty liner.

The discharge is thin and it may seem like it’s not that important but in reality, any discharge is abnormal. When you’re at your healthiest, you won’t have any discharge at all.

Types of Vaginal Discharge

Source: Unity Point Health

Fish Like Odor

The strong fish-like odor isn’t pleasant at all.

You’ll smell it especially after sexual intercourse and in the morning when you first wake up.

If you work long hours, you can expect the smell to increase during the workday. The longer the vaginosis goes untreated, the worse the smell will get.

Bacterial vaginosis can ruin relationships, especially when the discharge and smell are so bad that the smell can be detected three feet away.

Burning Sensation and Itching

Burning upon urination can also start slowly and almost unnoticeable and then worsen as time goes on.

The itching will start with an occasional itch and progress to where you’re feeling as if you want to break all social rules and scratch, even in an important business meeting!

In about half the women with bacterial vaginosis, there are no symptoms.

That’s why it’s very important to have healthy eating and personal hygiene habits all the time!

Stay Healthy With Good Personal Habits

Some of the most helpful health habits are:

1. Clothing

  • Wear cotton underwear and try to avoid dyes and bleaches that can irritate sensitive female reproductive tissues
  • Avoid tight fitting clothing as much as possible
  • Change your underwear daily

2. Personal Hygiene

  • Don’t leave tampons in for longer than 2-3 hours at a time. The longer the tampon is in, the greater the chance for bacteria to multiply
  • Change sanitary pads at least once every 2-3 hours
  • Do not douche

3. Sexual Life

How Many Sex Partners?

Source: LiveScience

  • Keep the number of sexual partners to a minimum of one. Researchers report that the greater number of partners you have, the greater the chance of developing bacterial vaginosis
  • Wash the vaginal area after intercourse

4. Diet

Healthy Meals
  • Eat wholesome foods such as meats, dairy products, yogurt, fermented foods, fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds
  • Leave out candy and processed foods

In one way, the vagina is similar to the intestinal tract: it depends on normal flora to function properly.

Millions of good bacteria are found in the vagina, and there are some potentially harmful bacteria there as well.

The Good Bacteria Reproduce Themselves When You're Healthy

When a woman is healthy and has healthy habits, the good bacteria reproduce their numbers to levels that correspond with excellent health of the reproductive system.

This means that the woman has a greater tendency to have easier periods, smell fresh, and have very little discharge.

However, when the potentially harmful bacteria increase their numbers, that’s when the trouble starts. A discharge and fishy or wet sock odor are common when the bacterial flora is out of balance.

What Happens When You Have Bacterial Vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a condition when the vaginal flora is out of balance. 

Specifically, there’s an increase in the number of anaerobic bacteria in the reproductive tract along with a change in the pH of the usual cervical ‘juices’.

The ideal pH level of the vagina is between 3.8 to 4.2, which is on the acidic side.

The condition is quite common, and it can be associated with a greater risk of developing sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV, herpes, gonorrhea and Chlamydia.

If a woman is pregnant with bacterial vaginosis, the change in pH and flora can affect the fetus.

pH chart

It’s common that pregnant women with BV will deliver pre-term babies or babies that are low birth weight, which is less than 5-1/2 pounds. A low birth weight infant is susceptible to all types of illnesses.

Bacterial vaginosis can also cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which can cause infertility or scarring of the Fallopian tubes. PID can also potentially lead to life-threatening pregnancies called ectopic pregnancies when the egg attaches to tissues outside the uterus.