It’s Not Always Thrush. Could You Have BV?

Thinking Girl

Most women of a certain age will have heard of the dreaded infection ‘thrush’, but did you know that it is only one of three common vaginal infections that affect women. Candidiasis, or ‘thrush’ as we know it, is the most well-known, but it is often confused with bacterial vaginosis (BV) or less commonly, trichomoniasis.

So how do you know if you have thrush or BV? Let’s take a look at the conditions in more detail.

Bacterial Vaginosis

BV is an imbalance of the pH levels in your vagina and more women in the UK suffer from it than any other vaginal condition, including thrush.

A woman’s vagina is full of naturally occurring bacteria that keep it in balance, healthy and free from infection. Lactic acid producing bacteria maintains the low pH, but if these bacteria reduce then bad bacteria can grow and this can result in some unpleasant symptoms.

Symptoms of BV:

  • An unusual ‘fishy’ smell, which is especially strong after intercourse
  • Abnormal discharge – this will likely be white / grey and thin
  • Vaginal discomfort

50% of women who suffer from BV however have no symptoms at all, so if you feel something is up speak to your local GP.

Causes of BV:

There a number of different things that can affect the pH balance of your vagina and therefore cause BV. It is important to note however that it is not caused by poor hygiene levels, but in fact prefers cleanliness. Bacterial vaginosis may be caused by:

  • The IUD contraceptive coil
  • Antibiotics
  • Washing the vagina with perfumed soap or shower gel
  • Prolonged menstruation
  • Menopause
  • Sexual intercourse
  • Frequent douching
  • Use of sex toys
  • Use of intimate hygiene products

These triggers however may vary depending on your age and lifestyle. Young girls are likely to get BV while their periods are heavy and unsettled, young women may be more at risk thanks to contraceptive intrauterine devices that prevent pregnancy, and women going through the menopause may suffer from BV thanks to their hormone imbalances.

Risks of BV:

Bacterial vaginosis is not dangerous alone, but it can however link to more serious conditions. Women with BV are therefore more at risk of:

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Endometritis
  • STDs
  • Post-operative infections
  • UTIs
  • Miscarriage and premature birth
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Depression or anxiety


Thrush is a yeast infection in the vagina. This yeast, known as ‘candida’, lives in or around the private area, and may multiply to cause unpleasant symptoms.

Symptoms of Thrush:

Many of the symptoms of thrush are similar to those that come with BV and therefore are the reason why the two conditions are often confused. Symptoms of thrush include:

  • Abnormal discharge – this will likely be thick and ‘curd-like’
  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Irritation
  • Redness

Causes of Thrush:

  • The contraceptive pill
  • Antibiotics
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Pregnancy
  • Tight synthetic clothing, such as nylon fabrics
  • Contamination from the GI tract
  • Change in vaginal pH

Risks of Thrush:

There are no major health issues associated with thrush, but recurring thrush can cause depression, anxiety or sexual issues.

Treating BV and Thrush

Whichever vaginal infection you think you may have it is important to book an appointment with your local GP in order to get it treated. They will prescribe medicine as a cream, pessary or tablet in order to fight the symptoms and treat the cause.

You can also buy a number of over the counter products from your local pharmacy if you recognise the symptoms and have self-diagnosed.

So do you think you may have BV or thrush? Find out with this easy to use symptom checker!

Balance Activ works with you, for you, to naturally restore the balance of your feminine health. Take a look at their website for more information on vaginal health, and to discover products to help safely treat common feminine issues.

Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post.