Lover got fishy/off bad vag? You have it too.

If you are having bareback sex with women, you share your microbes. Because the microflora of the penis tends to take on the much more plentiful microbes from vaginas, you get the bad with the good.

BV is the most common vulvovaginal condition affecting women globally. Most women will experience this tragic, antibiotic-resistant affliction at some point in their lives, and some live with it for decades. Antibiotics only work half the time, and bacterial biofilms are largely to blame. Reinfection by partners is a huge part of this puzzle.

If any of your lovers have symptoms of or has been diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis (BV), it’s likely that you have these problem bacteria living in and on your penis too. This means you can spread bad vag around, and/or back to the original sexual partner after she may have undergone successful treatment.

Men in contact with BV-affected vaginas might need treatment, but not always. A thorough PCR test by a knowledgeable doctor can check you for the same microbes that cause BV in women.

  • If you always use condoms, you’re fine – as you were
  • Do you have a history of lovers with vulvovaginal infections? (Yeast, BV, etc.)
  • Do you have bareback sex with more than one woman regularly?
  • Does your penis smell off or do you have urethral symptoms that antibiotics don’t fix?

What you should do if you think you may be a carrier

  • Wear condoms until further notice
  • Get PCR tested if you can – but expect some resistance from doctors working from outdated information
  • Make sure your female partners are tested and treated, and are three months symptom-free before resuming bareback
  • If you are a carrier, get treated and then retested if possible

Don’t let the name fool you into thinking BV is just a women’s problem – one of our favourite BV researchers, Swidsinski, says: “The correct name distinguishing it from symptom-defined conditions like BV should be gardnerellosis.” That is, it affects us all.

You won’t always know if your lover has BV, but this should be a conversation you are able to initiate with sexual partners when considering going bareback. BV is not tested for in STI screening, but women are usually tested during a pap test. Women may not realise they have BV, but if you see (smell) something, say something, and don’t put your penis or mouth on it! It’s definitely catching.

Read more about how to tell your lover she has bad vag

Bad vag (BV) symptoms in women to look out for:

  • Fishy odour
  • Off-smelling vagina
  • Bad smell and taste of vaginal fluids
  • Watery greyish discharge
  • Itching, soreness, swelling, painful sex, etc.
  • Lots of yeast infections and urinary tract infections as well (vaginal dysbiosis)


Here is the evidence that you may have BV bacterial biofilms – with no symptoms – on your penis:


1. Study title: Gardnerella biofilm involves females and males and is transmitted sexually

“Cohesive Gardnerella was present in all patients with proven BV and their partners… Cohesive Gardnerella biofilm is a distinct, clearly definable entity which involves both genders and is sexually transmitted.”

2. Study title: Desquamated epithelial cells covered with a polymicrobial biofilm typical for bacterial vaginosis are present in randomly selected cryopreserved donor semen

‘Desquamated epithelial cells covered with a polymicrobial Gardnerella biofilm were identified in urine samples from all [20] women with BV and 13 of their male partners and in none of the female controls and their partners’

3. Study title: Prevalence of Gardnerella vaginalis in male sexual partners of women with and without bacterial vaginosis

In males, G. vaginalis has been repeatedly recovered from the urethra and from seminal fluid. Sexual contact studies point to the sexual transmissibility of G. vaginalis.

In 1955, Gardner and Dukes reported that they had isolated Gardnerella from the urethra of 86% of husbands of women with BV. Similarly, in 1978, Pfeiffer et al. demonstrated the concordance of Gardnerella among 79% of couples in which the woman had BV versus 0% of couples in which the woman did not have BV.

This is a bit complex, since western medicine still hasn’t caught up beyond giving antibiotics, which we know by now only works half the time in women, and because antibiotics can’t break down biofilms, we could anticipate that antibiotics will not work in men.

We’ve written a book on how to get rid of BV in women (Killing BV), by removing the bacterial biofilm that keeps BV recurring, but we’ve also published a book specifically for men on how to remove the BV biofilm from the penis.

These books are essential reading for any woman struggling with BV, and her male sexual partner, who may be contributing to the problem. Every book comes with free email support and access to the support section for men and women.

Jessica Lloyd - Vulvovaginal Specialist Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)