Bacterial Vaginosis Antibiotics and Treatment
Treat the cause of bacterial vaginosis using antibiotic treatment with our fast and discreet service.
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Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common vaginal infection. It happens when there is an imbalance of the natural vaginal bacteria.
BV is not usually a harmful infection, but it can lead to more serious conditions if it’s not treated quickly.
You can treat BV using a short course of prescription antibiotics. You can request antibiotic treatment from ZAVA without needing an appointment. Simply complete our online questionnaire and one of our doctors will get back to you about whether this treatment is suitable.
We can post your BV treatment directly to your door in discreet packaging. You can also choose to collect it from a Post Office.
Bacterial Vaginosis Treatment
Bacterial vaginosis is a common vaginal infection. It happens when there’s an overgrowth of certain vaginal bacteria.
Bacteria live in our bodies and on our skin. They help our immune system’s defences and keep us healthy. When there’s too much of one type of bacteria, this can cause problems.
You might first notice that your vaginal discharge has changed colour and consistency. This can be due to BV or another type of vaginal infection.
BV can be treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics are only available on prescription, so you’ll need to speak to a doctor to get treatment. You can also request BV treatment through ZAVA without needing to make an appointment.
Bacterial vaginosis can be caused due to an overgrowth of a bacteria called Gardnerella vaginalis. Gardnerella vaginalis is a natural part of your vaginal environment. It helps protect your vagina from infections.
Certain triggers can cause Gardnerella vaginalis to grow more than it should. These include:
- the copper IUD (intrauterine device)
- using vaginal hygiene products like deodorants or douches
- getting your period
- being sexually active
- not using condoms
Having too much of one bacteria will disrupt the protective mechanisms in place. This makes it more likely for you to get other infections, such as sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
The main symptom of BV is a change in the way your vaginal discharge smells. In particular, you might notice a strong fishy smell.
The second most common symptom of BV is a change in the consistency of your vaginal discharge. Your discharge can become watery, thin and a greyish white colour. These all indicate that you might have a BV infection.
If you have abnormal vaginal discharge but are not sure if it’s BV, speak to your pharmacist or doctor. You can also read our guide about vaginal discharge.
Around half of women that get BV do not have any symptoms, so you might not realise you have it.
While BV isn’t a serious condition, it’s best to get treated to avoid any complications. You should get treated as soon as possible if you are pregnant and have BV as the infection may affect your baby.
You can treat bacterial vaginosis using antibiotic treatment. This is either by taking oral tablets or using a vaginal gel or cream. Both methods are effective at clearing the infection that causes BV.
Metronidazole is an antibiotic that is effective at stopping the growth of Gardnerella vaginalis. You can take metronidazole as tablets or as a vaginal gel called Zidoval gel.
Metronidazole tablets come in 2 dose forms:
- 1 tablet taken twice daily for 7 days
- 5 tablets taken as a single dose
Zidoval gel comes with 7 vaginal applicators. You should use 1 applicator a day for a one week treatment course.
Dalacin cream is another treatment for BV. You can use Dalacin cream if you cannot tolerate metronidazole or if it does not work for you.
Dalacin cream contains clindamycin phosphate. Clindamycin is another antibiotic that stops the overgrowth of Gardnerella vaginalis.
The cream comes with a vaginal applicator which you will use to insert 5g of the medication into your vagina. You’ll do this for 7 days in a row.
It’s important to complete the course of treatment your doctor prescribes for you. An incomplete course of antibiotics can lead to the infection growing back stronger. This can make it difficult to treat as the bacteria may become resistant to antibiotics.
Bacterial vaginosis tablets work by killing the excess bacteria in your vagina. This can either be done locally using the gel or cream or systemically with the tablets. Both methods are effective at treating BV.
Metronidazole and clindamycin are effective antibiotics that treat anaerobic infections. Anaerobic bacteria do not need oxygen to survive. They need a specific type of antibiotic to kill them.
You can buy certain BV treatments over the counter. These are usually pessaries that contain lactic acid. Lactic acid has been shown to have some effect on restoring balance to the natural vaginal bacteria. Over the counter treatment is usually a 7 day course.
Metronidazole products and Dalacin cream are only available on prescription. You’ll need to speak to your doctor to get a prescription, or you can request this from ZAVA. At ZAVA, you do not need to make an appointment to get the right treatment for you.
Bacterial vaginosis is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI). BV can increase the risk of certain STIs like chlamydia or gonorrhoea. This is because a change in the vaginal environment can make you vulnerable to other infections.
Chlamydia and gonorrhoea do not always give you symptoms. Untreated STIs can lead to other health complications, including pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
If you use metronidazole gel or Dalacin cream to treat BV, you may experience some side effects. These are normally temporary and should not last very long.
Some common side effects when using metronidazole gel or Dalacin cream include:
- itching, burning or stinging on your skin
- feeling sick or being sick
- vaginal thrush
- stomach cramps
- vaginal discharge
- inflammation of the vulva or vagina
Metronidazole tablets are usually well tolerated and have very few side effects. You may feel sick when you take the first few doses, but this feeling will disappear.
You should avoid drinking alcohol while using any metronidazole treatment and for 2 days after.
Try to finish the course of antibiotics to make sure the infection is treated completely. If you get side effects that you cannot tolerate, speak to your pharmacist or doctor before stopping treatment.
Dr Babak Ashrafi Clinical Lead for Service Expansion
Babak studied medicine at King’s College London and graduated in 2003, having also gained a bachelor’s degree in Physiology during his time there. He completed his general practice (GP) training in East London, where he worked for a number of years as a partner at a large inner-city GP practice. He completed the Royal College of GPs membership exam in 2007.Meet our doctors
Last reviewed: 23 May 2022
Bacterial vaginosis (NICE) [Oct 2018] [accessed April 2022]
Bacterial vaginosis (NHS) [Nov 2018] [accessed April 2022]
Lactic acid-containing products for bacterial vaginosis and their impact on the vaginal microbiota: A systematic review [Feb 2021] [accessed April 2022]