Bacterial vaginosis – why does my vagina smell like fish?

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

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) causes a fishy-smelling vagina, however so do a couple of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), so before you make assumptions, see your doctor to be thoroughly tested for STIs and have a BV screening. Obtaining a comprehensive microbiome panel is also extremely useful.

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.

(Download Killing BV to learn how to remove vaginal bacterial biofilms.)

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 the internet is recommending you use for BV.

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 disruptive 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 resistant BV – dealing with the biofilms

We have an effective treatment program, Killing BV, 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 My Vagina is for, so check out all the research, posts and discussions about BV for effective treatment.

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Original price was: USD $9.99.Current price is: USD $0.00. ex GST/VAT/TAX
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)