Bacterial Vaginosis can, in many cases, be very difficult to self-diagnose as symptoms are not always obvious or even noticeable during the early stages of an infection. An infection like Bacterial Vaginosis might have only started as a very minor bacterial imbalance but by the time you are more aware of the infection; it’s likely to have grown into a much more prominent infection. In some cases, Bacterial Vaginosis can be spotted early on; by investigating unusual discharge (colour/odour) as well as being linked to intimate discomfort or itching. Therefore not only can it be difficult to spot a BV infection in its early stages but symptoms might not even be noticeable for a significant duration of time! You may not know you have a bacterial infection until it’s much more progressed and things like discharge and odours are more noticeable than before. Based on the symptoms above, it’s highly advised that you seek appropriate treatment immediately to clear it up if you do think you have BV. One of the most common ways women find out that they have BV is when their discharge is very unusual due to a change in colour, texture and odour; a good sign something is off with your intimate flora and bacteria!
Does BV discharge have an odour?
A women's ‘natural’ discharge can already have a unique odour that is considered normal, therefore distinguishing healthy vs ‘an infection’ (based on discharge alone) can be difficult to determine! Usually, there are a couple of different signs that your discharge might not be healthy and can be your body's way of reacting to an infection like Bacterial Vaginosis; which is known to affect your pH, discharge, bacteria and overall intimate health. It’s believed that an odour associated with BV occurs due to a change in discharge, so let's take a look at what BV-related discharge will look or smell like:
- The discharge might become white or grey
- Thin and/or watery in texture
- Typically a strong (unpleasant) odour like a fishy smell
Now, if you are noticing a change in odour that you believe is linked to coming from your discharge then you might want to refer to the above list to see if that described what you can see or smell. If those above signs/ symptoms do seem to correlate to your current discharge then it may be caused by BV. A change in odour, colour and texture can be all signs of bacterial infection but do not worry, they can be treated! Bacterial Vaginosis can be cleared up with medication like antibiotics, antibiotics gels or even with suitable probiotics. It’s also important to highlight that any discharge odour that changes and becomes unpleasant (fishy at all) is usually a sign that something is not right. An unpleasant intimate odour is not normal and could be a sign that you have an intimate health problem which is likely to be a bacterial-related infection like BV. Again more ‘bad’ news, you cannot always self-diagnose Bacterial Vaginosis based upon a change in odour on its own! The symptoms are not always as prominent or the same for each woman, which means BV might not be expelling any odour.
Can you have BV without an odour?
The short answer here is yes, you can have an infection, like Bacterial Vaginosis, without any disruption to your intimate or even discharge odour; it could be slightly different but still unnoticeable. Due to BV being an internal infection inside and around the vaginal area - it can be difficult to even know if a bacterial imbalance is responsible for an infection. BV does not always have an odour or any viable symptoms (even over an extended period). Many women only find out that they have BV during a routine pelvic examination. This could mean that they have had an infection for a significant amount of time before they even find out; a minor bacterial imbalance could become a much bigger infection. If BV is left, it can lead to a whole world of health issues that can affect fertility and pregnancy and cause a decline in your intimate health. Therefore if you do not have any symptoms (discharge changes or odour) but you think there might still be something off with your intimate health; then you can always book a consultation and examination to help you get some clarity! Once you know whether or not you have an infection like BV, you can begin appropriate treatment to clear up the infection (if you do have BV).
How do you know if your BV has gone for sure?
If you have recently finished a course of antibiotics or alternative treatment to clear up your BV then chances are that the infection cleared up once you finished your course of treatment. Typically this could be between a couple of days to a week or so - depending on the scale of your infection. Once your treatment has ended it’s likely that your infection has mostly cleared up but may take a few extra days for the entirety of the bacteria to clear up. Any symptoms, related to BV, should begin to clear up as well as any discomfort or itchiness around the intimate area; that should also stop. Your discharge should go back to healthy, which means that any unpleasant odour should be gone. To ensure that you do not get another BV infection right away you must be taking care of your intimate hygiene correctly; our blog post “ How to fix BV right away” details all the ways you can help to prevent future infection from arising (limit the chances of recurring BV).That is for another Health Insider Blog post! If you find our content helpful then we recommend you bookmark this blog page, to make sure that you can easily find it again when you have any questions than need answering about intimate health! If you ever require additional help with your query then you can send our experts a DM on Instagram where we aim to get to you as soon as possible.