That's right, we said it, vaginal discharge.
As it's National BV Day and it's such an embarrassing topic for most women - who better to talk us all through it than Dr. Dawn Harper from Embarrassing Bodies.
Dr. Dawn not only spends her time examining warts and genitals on the telly, but she is a GP in Gloucestershire and runs private clinics focusing on women's health and menstrual disorders. So she should know a thing or two...
What is BV?
"BV, or Bacterial Vaginosis, is the most common cause of abnormal vaginal discharge among women of childbearing age. It's a vaginal infection that affects one in three women in the UK (that's around 8.9 million of us), yet most of us have never even heard of it."
Is BV serious?
Dr Dawn advises, "BV itself isn't serious and it's very easily treated, but if left untreated it can have serious implications:
BV can lead to an increased risk of contracting STIs such as Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea and HIV
If a pregnant woman has BV she's twice as likely to give birth prematurely than other women and is six times more likely to have a miscarriage
It's thought that BV is responsible for one in three of all premature births in the UK."
What causes BV?
"BV occurs when good bacteria naturally present in the vagina become disrupted, allowing bad bacteria to multiply. This disruption is caused by an imbalance in the pH level inside the vagina; a change that can be triggered by external factors including:
Washing with scented soaps and perfumed products
Unprotected sex (semen is alkaline in comparison to the slightly acidic environment of the vagina)
Using a coil
BV is not an STI and it's not caused by poor hygiene; in fact washing with soaps and perfumed products can trigger the condition."
What are the symptoms?
"The main symptoms of BV are a grey-white discharge and a fishy odour. Often these symptoms get confused with thrush and the result is that many women treat their symptoms as such," says Dr Dawn. "This incorrect treatment leads to an endless cycle of BV, and it's a cycle that causes discomfort, embarrassment and misery to millions."
How is BV treated?
"BV is easily treated with antibiotics on prescription from your doctor or using lactic acid pessaries or gel which can be bought over the counter from pharmacies or obtained on prescription. The lactic acid treatment can be used when a bout of BV occurs to quickly eliminate odour and discharge, and to maintain a healthy, balanced vaginal pH to help prevent further cases," says Dr Dawn.
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