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What is BV?

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common infection of the vagina. It’s harmless and easily treated with antibiotics.

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How is BV passed on?

It’s not classed as a sexually transmitted infection (STI), the cause is not fully known but bacterial vaginosis happens when there’s a change in the natural balance of bacteria in your vagina. You’re more likely to get it if:

  • you’re sexually active
  • you’ve had a change of sexual partner
  • you have an IUD (contraception device)
  • you use perfumed products on your vagina

People with BV may be able to pass the condition on to other people with vaginas that they come into sexual contact with, though it is unclear how this happens.

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How do I know I have BV?

People with BV will sometimes get unusual discharge(liquid) from their vagina which has a strong fishy smell, particularly after sex. It can be white or grey and thin/watery. Something to always remember is, sexual health clinics treat problems with genitals and urine system. BV doesn’t usually cause any soreness or itching, if you’re unsure it’s BV, head to your GP or sexual health clinic. A doctor or nurse might look at your vagina and a cotton bud may be wiped over the discharge inside your vagina to test for other infections. This won’t hurt, it might feel uncomfortable but remember bacterial vaginosis is very common and nothing to feel ashamed of.

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How can BV be treated?

If it is BV, it’s usually treated with a prescribed set of antibiotic tablets or gel. 

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Where can I test for BV?

You can get a test for Bacterial Vaginosis at your GP or at a range of sexual health clinics (sometimes called GUMs) across Greater Manchester.

Sexual Health testing services in Greater Manchester.

Free and confidential advice and support

Contact a sexual health adviser

The Passionate about Sexual Health (PaSH) Partnership) is a collaboration between BHA for Equality, George House Trust and the LGBT Foundation. The PaSH Partnership will deliver a comprehensive programme of interventions to meet the changing needs of people newly diagnosed with HIV, living longer term with HIV or at greatest risk of acquiring HIV.

0845 450 4247

Free & confidential sexual health services for black and minority communities



0161 274 4499

Free and confidential support, advice and advocacy services for people living with HIV



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Providing advice, support and resources for LGBT people to take control of their sexual health and wellbeing