Stop ignoring your vagina.
It could be trying to tell you something important.
If you’ve ever experienced thin, milky vaginal discharge that may also have a strong, fishy odor, you may have had bacterial vaginosis (BV). It’s the most common vaginal infection in women of childbearing age.
Many women mistakenly confuse BV discharge with yeast infection discharge, which is odorless, thick and white. If you thought you had a yeast infection only to later find out it was BV, you’re not alone.
Ignoring or misdiagnosing BV may lead to a number of possible complications. Without treatment, or with the wrong treatment, the infection may worsen.
Left untreated, BV can sometimes cause pelvic inflammatory disease, which can harm your reproductive organs and lead to infertility. And finally, BV puts you at greater risk for an infection following any gynecologic surgery or procedure.
BV is easily treated, and there are many available options, which include antibiotics, prescribed as oral tablets or as topical creams that are applied inside the vagina. The treatments get rid of the bacteria causing the infection. Some treatments also leave the good bacteria intact to support a healthy vaginal microbiome.
The following are BV risk factors:
- Having a new sex partner or multiple sex partners (although it is possible to get the infection if you’ve never had sex)
- Not using condoms
- Being African American or Latino
One in four pregnant women will develop BV, which can occur at any point during pregnancy. Ignoring symptoms and not being treated can increase the risk of preterm labor and birth, as well as having a low–birth-weight baby.