Bacterial vaginosis – why does my vagina smell like fish?

Bacterial Vaginosis

Bad vag ahoy! Just been diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis, or just suspicious? Read on.

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) causes a fishy-smelling vagina, however so do a couple of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), so before you try out any treatments, check out your options and get a proper PCR test and culture. This is really important, because STIs can damage your reproductive system if you don’t get treated. You cannot treat sexually transmitted infections yourself at home, but you can treat BV at home as long as you know for sure that this is what you have.

Sometimes you will also have other bacteria that is not tested for using normal swabs, which is when PCR testing can come in, if your treatments consistently fail. You may have aerobic vaginitis bacteria, for example, as well as BV bacteria. Our latest treatments are broad spectrum, and can tackle many different types of bacteria, so the need for extensive testing has somewhat gone away for many of you.

     What is BV?

BV is the overgrowth of a specific type of bacteria in your vagina. This bacteria isn’t just free-floating (planktonic) bacteria: these bacteria have made a slimy coating they call home (a biofilm) inside your vagina, displacing your natural, friendly bacteria. (We’ve written a book on how to get rid of the biofilm here.)

Recurrent BV – that is, BV that keeps coming back time after time no matter what you do – is caused by the sticky bacterial biofilm of Gardnerella vaginalis, a microbe that normally lives in many vaginas harmlessly, just like mould spores are in the oxygen that we breathe. G. vaginalis can be sexually transmitted between male-female or female-female sex partners, which is why having a new sexual partner can bring unwelcome guests into your vagina. By itself G. vaginalis does not pose a problem, but when it starts building biofilms, you’re in trouble. This is when BV just won’t go away no matter what you do.

You might treat it with apple cider vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, vitamin C, vitamin D, folic acid, probiotics and whatever people are recommending online that you put inside your vagina. This is not going to solve your problem unless you are really lucky! The biofilm is by its very nature very resistant to everything you do, including high-dose antibiotics, which is the point: it stays put, and the bad bacteria retain their colony.

The symptoms you are experiencing are caused by your vagina being overridden by bad bacteria, usually tag teaming. It’s not just G. vaginalis, since other bacteria jump on board the biofilm train, and hide in there. This makes the biofilm stronger and stronger, as more different types of bacteria add their weapons of choice to the arsenal against your friendly bacteria. Your vagina becomes more alkaline (high pH), and the lactobacilli can’t survive. They finally just give up, and disappear from your vagina completely. This leaves you with a very smelly, unfriendly vagina.

Lactobacilli usually keep Gardnerella in check, but for some reason, sometimes, Gardnerella takes over and makes the equivalent of a nest. Yucky, huh? If you are lucky, your first or second round of antibiotics will have worked, but chances are if you are here, it hasn’t. You may also not want to use antibiotics to treat your BV, which is fair enough. They only work about half the time, with research suggesting that the mixture of microbes in your vagina dictates how bad your BV is and how strong the biofilm is.

     How to treat the cause of BV – the biofilm

We have an effective treatment program that aims to remove the bacterial biofilm completely, and re-inoculate your vagina and gut with lactobacilli. It works, but it doesn’t work for everyone all the time, which is why proper testing is so important. If you have other – untested – bacteria lurking, the treatment will never work. If you have simple BV, it has every chance of working first go.

Don’t worry – your BV is treatable, but you’re going to need to put in a bit more work than antibiotics. There is no true pharmaceutical treatment available for BV which is a bit of a failing on the pharmcos’ parts, considering how many women suffer from BV. The biofilm information has been available for over a decade, but your doctor probably doesn’t even know about it either, so keeps prescribing you ineffective antibiotics because they lack other evidence-based options.

Read everything you can about BV and know thine enemy. That is what this website is for, so check out all the research, posts and discussions about BV so you can get rid of it once and for all.

Posted on Last updated :April 23, 2018