Is it bacterial vaginosis or thrush?

Ah, thrush and it's evil accomplice, bacterial vaginosis. The two uninvited guests no woman ever wants to entertain! Some women will instantly blame thrush for any uncomfortable vaginal symptoms, even though the symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) are very similar. In fact, BV is more common than thrush! Despite the symptoms being similar, the treatment for thrush and BV is different, so it's important you know which one you have.


Is it thrush?

The most obvious symptoms of thrush are unbearable itching and even burning. The discharge associated with thrush is white and thick, with no obvious smell. Thrush is caused when there is a change in the balance of good bacteria to bad bacteria. Thrush is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and although it’s unpleasant, it is relatively simple to treat with the right antifungal remedy.

Top tip!

Save money by asking your pharmacist for clotrimazole. This is the active ingredient in the branded, market-leading product for treating thrush. However, if you use the non-branded equivalent, you can make a serious saving which could be spent on something more exciting than thrush treatments, let's face it!

Is it bacterial vaginosis?

BV symptoms are slightly different but the most obvious difference between thrush and BV is the smell. While thrush has no obvious smell, if you have BV you will notice an unpleasant fish-like smell. BV can cause mild irritation and burning during urination. BV is caused by a change in the vaginal pH and can be triggered by external factors such as soap or semen, or internal factors such as diet or antibiotics. BV can even be triggered by heavy vaginal bleeding during your period. Depending on the severity of your BV symptoms, they can be treated simply by rebalancing the vaginal environment.

BV is not a sexually transmitted infection but it may be trigged by sexual intercourse, therefore it is advised that you don’t have sex while you have the symptoms of BV. The good news is that with the right treatment the symptoms should clear up in a couple of days.

If your symptoms are particularly severe or prolonged you may want to discuss them with a doctor who can prescribe additional treatment. If you think you may be pregnant, we'd recommend you talk through your symptoms with your GP or midwife.

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