Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) Treatment

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is characterised by the release of a light-coloured, strong-smelling discharge from the vagina. It is caused by an infection, which may be the result of a bacterial imbalance in the body.

  1. Almost 100,000 cases recorded by the NHS every year
  2. Can be caused by a range of factors
  3. Simple to medicate with antibiotic medicine


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  1. Treatment with a wide array of uses
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Bacterial Vaginosis is an infection which affects the vagina. It is caused by the presence of certain types of bacteria, called anaerobes. These tend to develop when the balance of healthy bacteria in the vagina becomes upset.

Lactobacilli is an example of a bacteria which carries out a positive function in the body. It converts nutrients into lactic acid, and helps to stop the development of potentially harmful germs in the vagina. However, when the levels of lactobacilli fall, anaerobes are free to grow in number, and this can cause symptoms of a bacterial infection.

This imbalance might be instigated by any one of a number of factors, such as the use of certain types of soap, washing detergent to clean underwear, vaginal deodorising products, an intrauterine contraceptive, or sexual intercourse.

Someone with bacterial vaginosis may experience no symptoms at all, but those who do may notice a watery vaginal discharge which is white or grey, and carries a strong smelling odour. It does not typically induce pain or irritation.

At present, around 100,000 cases of BV are reported in GUM clinics in the UK each year. The condition is not categorised as an STI, but it is thought that those who are sexually active are more at risk.

Bacterial Vaginosis is easy to treat with antibiotic medicine. This is most commonly issued in the form of metronidazole, an active agent which prevents the cells of offending bacteria from reproducing. It does this by inhibiting them from generating chemicals which they need to develop. Once the bacteria is rendered inactive, the body is able to deplete it back to manageable numbers and restore balance.

Metronidazole is marketed in various forms: as a tablet (Flagyl); or as a gel (Zidoval). It is also available as a generic medication, in tablet form or as an oral suspension fluid.

Please note that we do not offer treatments for bacterial vaginosis through our site. If you are experiencing symptoms, we recommend you see your GP or attend a local GUM clinic.

Page last reviewed:  08/09/2017
Types of Treatment

How to get rid of bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial Vaginosis is an infection caused by certain types of bacteria. Treatment aims at neutralising the presence of these bacteria, helping to restore balance and reduce symptoms. The medications most adept at performing this function are antibiotics like Flagyl.

Antibiotics for BV

Flagyl contains metronidazole as its functioning ingredient. This works by stopping the bacteria causing the infection from generating healthy, self-sustaining DNA material. Once the bacteria is disabled, it is no longer able to repair itself, and eventually killed off by the antibiotic.

What are the side effects?

Side effects may include dizziness, diarrhoea, stomach pain and headaches.

Can I take them with other medications?

Flagyl may cause interactions with other types of medicine. You can find out more on this subject by consulting the relevant information leaflets, or asking your prescriber. Always tell your doctor which other medications you are taking during consultation.

Page last reviewed:  08/09/2017
Question and Answers

Should I take Flagyl?

It depends on whether you are currently using any other treatments, or if you have any conditions which may make it unsuitable for you to use. Inform your doctor of your medical history during consultation to ensure it is safe for you.

Are there different side effects?

Products containing metronidazole may cause feelings of dizziness, headaches, or abdominal pain. This is not a detailed account of all possible side effects. For more information, consult the leaflet provided with the product.

Is it right for me?

Talk to your GP, or visit your nearest GUM clinic to find out. They will be able to discuss your symptoms with you and issue a treatment where required.

Please note that we do not offer medication for bacterial vaginosis through our site.

Page last reviewed:  08/09/2017
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