32-year-old Nicola Smith’s BV was so bad she worried that she had become incontinent at the age of 25. She says: “I would run for the bus and all of a sudden I would get this terrible discharge. I would have to go home and change my knickers, it was so embarrassing and uncomfortable. I felt I couldn’t talk about it with anyone and panicked that I had become incontinent already.”
Nicola first noticed the white discharge and fishy smell shortly after she moved into a new flat and began replacing her daily shower with a bath. She found it particularly bad whenever she had her period.
Bacterial Vaginosis is the most common vaginal infection that if left untreated can lead to serious health implications. It is twice as prevalent as thrush and, according to experts, it is the leading cause of abnormal discharge for women of childbearing age.
Bromley-based Nicola didn’t wait long until she sought advice. Presuming she had an STI she visited her local STI clinic. “I thought I had thrush or Chlamydia or something so was really surprised to be diagnosed with BV as I had never even heard of it.”
Nicola is just one of the many women that will suffer from BV. In fact, 1 in 3 women are likely to develop the infection at some point in their lives – that’s 8.9 million women in the UK alone. However, 2 out of 3 women are misdiagnosing BV as thrush due to a lack of awareness and misunderstanding around the symptoms.
Despite being diagnosed correctly things didn’t go smoothly for Nicola; “I was given a pill by the clinic that was out of date and made me ill. I complained to a friend and she recommended Balance Activ® which is what I’ve been using every time I feel it’s flaring up again. It’s so reassuring that Balance Activ is available over the counter; there’s a two week waiting list at my Doctors surgery to get antibiotics, which often caused me to get thrush. It’s just so much easier to be able to pop into the shop and buy Balance Activ® whenever I need it.”
Nicola did the right thing. If left untreated, BV can have serious health implications included increased risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (which can lead to reduced fertility) and increased risk of contracting certain STIs, including HIV. If BV is present during pregnancy, it has been linked to early labour and premature birth.
Read more about BV here.