As many women will know, having sex can trigger a bout of bacterial vaginosis, or BV, and recurring BV can really spoil the mood for you. BV is one of the most common vaginal conditions (it is estimated to affect one in three of us), yet not many people have heard of it – in fact, symptoms of bacterial vaginosis are often confused with a yeast infection or thrush symptoms. Symptoms can include a discharge that can smell fishy and unpleasant – often people ignore this or think it’s just a side effect of having sex, but in reality, it’s your body telling you that things are out of balance in there.
In some cases, people worry that they or their partner have a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI). Although it can be caused by an imbalance of bacteria in the vagina as a result of having sex, BV isn’t an STI as these are infections that are passed from person to person by sexual contact. Having BV CAN sometimes increase your risk of getting an STI though, so it’s worth treating if you think you have symptoms of a bacterial infection.
BV is probably the last thing you want to be thinking about during sex, but if you are prone to recurring BV and sex might trigger your bacterial vaginosis symptoms, then there are some things you can do to help reduce the chances of developing BV after sex.
The safest thing to do if you’re having sex with different partners is to use a condom. As well as protecting you from STIs it will help prevent semen from entering the vagina.
BV is triggered by anything that upsets the vaginal pH, which is slightly acidic – semen is alkaline, so it upsets the balance and hey presto – you have recurring BV! If you’re in a long-term relationship with the same partner you may be on the pill or not using barrier contraceptives – so sex is very likely to trigger your BV. Don’t be tempted to use intimate washes, perfumes or sprays to mask the symptoms as these can affect your balance as well and actually make things worse.
So, what can you do? – here’s were Balance Activ can help. This BV treatment comes as either a gel or a gel pessary and it uses lactic acid to help restore your normal vaginal pH and rebalance your natural vaginal flora, to relieve symptoms of bacterial vaginosis. Balance Activ also contains glycogen, providing nutrients to encourage lactobacilli to replenish – these are the protective bacteria that help to maintain a healthy balance inside the vagina. If you’re prone to a fishy smell after sex, then keep some Balance Activ handy in the bathroom cupboard and apply according to the packet instructions.
Natasha from London, suffers from BV that can often get worse after sex.
“Balance Activ – which I can keep at home and use it when I need to – quickly gets rid of the symptoms.”
“I used to get symptoms of bacterial vaginosis when I first became sexually active in my late 20s. At the time, I just assumed it was normal, but when the symptoms carried on I realised that something was wrong. It used to make me feel uncomfortable and like I wasn’t clean, so I tried using hygiene products and changing my underwear more often. After seeking advice from a doctor, I treated the problem with antibiotics but when it came back time and time again I discovered Balance Activ – which I can keep at home and use it when I need to – it quickly gets rid of the symptoms, including the smell, if my BV comes back. I’m still prone to getting BV but being able to manage it myself at home now I know what it is has made all the difference.”
If your symptoms don’t go away or if you’re not sure whether it’s BV or something else, it’s important to seek advice from a healthcare professional as it may be a problem that needs further investigation. You can try using our online symptom checker to check your symptoms if you’re not sure, and if you’re worried about anything make an appointment to see your GP or sexual health clinic.