What is Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)?

BV is short for Bacterial Vaginosis. BV occurs when there is a change in the natural balance of bacteria in the vagina. In a healthy vagina, the environment is slightly acidic, thanks to lactobacilli – a kind of good bacteria that produce lactic acid. If these are in short supply, the vagina becomes less acidic and this causes BV. 

BV is very common, in fact BV is twice as prevalent as thrush. BV is often mistaken for thrush, which is in fact less common but is a better-known condition associated with an itch and abnormal discharge. Try checking your symptoms with our online symptom checker to identify the symptoms of some of the most common vaginal conditions. 

What are the symptoms of BV?

The symptoms of BV are quite similar to thrush but there are a few main differences. BV symptoms usually include a watery discharge (sometimes grey in colour) and a strong unpleasant odour (often fishy). These are the two main symptoms of BV

Is BV a sexually transmitted disease (STI)?

No. It is important to remember that BV is not a sexually transmitted infection and any male sexual partners would not need treatment.

Is BV hygiene related?

BV is not caused by poor hygiene. In fact, excessive washing of the vagina may alter the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina making BV more likely to develop.

What causes BV?

BV can be caused by a broad range of lifestyle and everyday activities. These can include over-washing and using perfumed products to a new sexual partner (semen can change the vagina's pH). Even your period can cause changes in pH and lead to occurrences of BV.

What should your vaginal pH level be?

pH level of 4.5 is considered normal. In BV the pH level is elevated above 4.5 and up to 6.

Do you have to be sexually active to get BV?

No, there are lots of causes of BV including use of perfumed washes and even your period. Sperm can change the pH of the vagina and is considered one of many potential causes of BV. However you don't have to be sexually active to get BV

If someone has a history of BV and has sex with a condom, can it still trigger BV?

There will be less chance as it is the semen that’s the trigger (semen has a higher pH than 4.5)

Can I use Balance Activ to maintain pH balance and help stop re-occurrence?

If you notice a re-occurrence of symptoms or suspect your vaginal balance isn’t as it should
be, you can use Balance Activ BV treatment gel to help restore normal pH and vaginal flora. This could be around key times when you have noticed a pattern of BV occurrences e.g. around your period.

What is the age suitability for BA gel?

Would recommend 16+. If you are under the age of 16 please speak to a parent, guardian or GP.

Can I use the gel and still remain a virgin?

Yes, but we recommend being careful when inserting the tube. Make sure that only the neck of the tube is inserted into the vagina.

Can you use Balance Activ whilst on antibiotics?

Yes you can

Can you take other medication with this product?

Antibiotics are OK to take with the gel, however we would advise speaking to your doctor before using another medical device with the BV Gel.

Can I use the gel during my period?

Yes, but it is recommended to use either before or immediately after menstruation to help maintain your natural pH balance.

Can Balance Activ be used when trying to conceive?

No – avoid using Balance Activ when trying to conceive as it has a low pH which can make the environment less suitable for sperm survival.

Is the gel a contraceptive? Does it kill sperm?

No. None of the Balance Activ products are contraceptives.

Can you use the gel with a condom?

Polyisoprene – Yes
Polyurethane – No (will degrade the condom)
Natural rubber latex – No (will degrade the condom)

When is the best time to use Balance Activ Gel or Pessaries?

Before bed – laying down will help the gel or pessary stay in place.

Can you use the gel during a urine infection?

Yes you can

What can be used to stop excess leakage?

Use a panty liner after application and/or use Balance Activ before bed.

I noticed blood in my discharge after using the gel/pessary– is this normal?

No, this is not normal and you should discuss this with your doctor / healthcare adviser.

Can the gel be administered whilst using the contraceptive vaginal ring

We have data to show that the gel will degrade both polyurethane and natural rubber latex condoms but we have no data to support the use of the gel with contraceptive vaginal rings. We would therefore advise not to use the gel with the ring.

Can you use the gel or pessary while having IUD (hormonal or non-hormonal) in place?

We do not have data regarding this issue. Please speak to your GP, Pharmacist or Healthcare Adviser.