Why Your Vagina has a “Fishy” Odor: Bacterial Vaginosis

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Reasons why you may develop BV

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is an infection of the vagina which occurs when the normal vaginal bacteria is thrown off balance, and other harmful bacteria start to overgrow.  It most commonly affects sexually active women of reproductive age (ages 15-44).

Having a new sexual partner or multiple sexual partners.

Having unprotected sex.


Having an intrauterine device (IUD).


Drug and alcohol abuse.

Taking certain antibiotic medicines.

Being pregnant.

Myths about Bacterial Vaginosis

You can get BV from toilet seats or from contact with objects. – No.

You can get BV from swimming pools, hot tubs, or taking a bath. – No.

BV doesn’t require treatment. It will go away on its own. – No.

✔️ It’s important to get treated because bacterial vaginosis increases your risk for sexually transmitted diseases. Getting treated can help reduce your risk for chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, and HIV

✔️ Treatment is also important for preventing complications in pregnant women, because this condition can cause an early labor.

How do I know if I have bacterial vaginosis?

Verify your signs and symptoms:

Grey or white vaginal discharge. Watery or foamy discharge.

Fish-like odor with discharge, especially after sexual intercourse or during menstruation.

Vaginal itching in and around the vagina.

Burning or pain with urination.

Some women with bacterial vaginosis have no signs or symptoms.

Verify your vaginal pH

There are kits available without a prescription to test your vaginal pH. A healthy vaginal pH ranges from 4-4.5.


See your Primary Care Physician or OB/Gyn

Your condition will be diagnosed based on your medical history, physical exam of the vaginal and sample of vaginal fluid or cells.

How is this treated?

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) is treated with prescription antibiotics and/or Boric acid. Prescription antibiotics may be give as a pill, a vaginal cream, or vaginal suppository. If the condition comes back after treatment, a second round of antibiotics may be needed.

The effectiveness of boric acid in treating BV has been gaining popularity amongst doctors recently, and is often used in conjunction with prescription antibiotics. The commercially available product is homeopathic and has not been evaluated by the FDA for safety or efficacy in treating vaginal conditions.

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