What are the symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis?

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Most women (50-75%) do not experience symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis, but when they do they typically have an abnormal vaginal discharge with an unpleasant odor. Some women report a strong fish-like odor, especially after intercourse. Discharge, if present, is usually white or gray and it can be thin.

Women with Bacterial Vaginosis may also have a burning sensation during urination or itching around the outside of the vagina, or both.

Other symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis include:

  • Vaginal itching
  • Vaginal burning sensation
  • Vaginal irritation
  • Painful urination
  • Painful sexual intercourse
  • Vaginal discharge, usually thin and grayish/white; discharge may more noticeable after having sex
  • Foul “fishy” odor

These symptoms are often mistaken for vaginal candida (thrush) and will partially respond to antifungal treatments before recurring. If you think you have recurrent thrush, it’s worth considering whether or not you could have bacterial vaginosis.

The offensive smell of Bacterial Vaginosis worsens when the discharge mixes with alkaline fluids. This occurs during and after menstruation, when the smell may seem worse, and after having unprotected sex because blood and semen are both alkaline. The smell can also worsen if the discharge mixes with alkaline urine.