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What To Do If Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) Smell Won't Go Away

Medically reviewed by Jobelle Ann Dela Cruz Bigalbal, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Sep 27, 2023

    What To Do If Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) Smell Won't Go Away

    Some women with bacterial vaginosis (BV) notice a strong, fishy vaginal smell. But, is it possible to have the condition without the fishy odor? What can you do if the BV smell won’t go away? Find out here.

    What Is Bacterial Vaginosis?

    The vagina is a natural home to different kinds of bacteria-both good and bad. As long as there’s balance in the number of microbes, the woman will not experience any problem.

    In bacterial vaginosis, there’s a disruption in the microbial balance; this means there’s an overgrowth in the number of a certain kind of bacteria in the vagina.

    The overgrowth causes an infection, leading to various symptoms like:

    • strong, fishy odor
    • burning sensation
    • thin, white or gray vaginal discharge

    However, please note that about half the women who experience BV don’t exhibit symptoms; that’s why BV without discharge or odor is highly likely.

    bv smell won't go away

    What Can You Do If the BV Smell Won’t Go Away?

    Bacterial vaginosis generally does not cause any health concern unless you have symptoms, are trying to get pregnant, or already pregnant.

    According to experts, BV can decrease a woman’s fertility. Moreover, when she gets bacterial vaginosis while pregnant, the risk of miscarriage, preterm birth, and uterine infection increases.

    For most women, the persisting problems are the strong fishy odor and thin, discolored vaginal discharge. Here are some things you can do to help improve the strong smell.

    Seek Medical Help

    The first and most important thing to do is to set an appointment with your doctor. Most bacterial vaginosis cases are highly curable with antibiotics, but you cannot get the medicine without a doctor’s prescription.

    Once your doctor gives you the antibiotic, take it as ordered. If they advise you to take it for 7 days, do not stop taking the medicine even if your symptoms are getting better after just 3 or 4 days.

    Don’t Douche

    Douching is the method of cleaning the inside of the vagina with water or prepacked cleansing agents. Note that the vagina is a self-cleaning organ, so using anything to “clean” it may only irritate the skin and further interrupt the bacterial environment in your genital area.

    Avoid Perfumed Feminine Products

    You might think that perfumed feminine products will help you if the BV smell won’t go away, but the truth is, they will only worsen your condition.

    Like douching, scented products—especially those containing harsh chemicals—may irritate the vaginal skin and disturb its microbial balance.

    Clean Your Genital Area Properly

    Instead of douching or using scented products, clean the outside of your vagina with warm water and mild soap, and pat it dry with a clean towel or tissue.

    Whenever you use the bathroom, wipe or wash from front to back to prevent the spread of bacteria from the anus. And, of course, don’t forget to wash your hands before and after touching your genital area.

    Another tip is to avoid wearing tight-fitting underwear and pants; as much as possible, use breathable, cotton undergarments.

    Excessive sweating can also trigger fishy vaginal odor, so be sure to change out of your sweaty clothes after working out.

    If the BV smell won’t go away, you can consider taking some probiotics, which are live beneficial bacteria.

    Some studies reveal that probiotics help add good bacteria to our bodies. You can obtain natural probiotics from fermented foods and yogurt. You can also ask your doctor about probiotic drinks and supplements.

    Avoid Sexual Intercourse

    It’s important to note that bacterial vaginosis is not a sexually transmitted infection. So experts say you can have sex while you’re receiving treatment.

    However, they still discourage patients from engaging in sexual intercourse.

    Sex can be painful when you have BV. Additionally, it can also worsen your symptoms. The best thing to do is to wait until your infection clears up or your symptoms have at least improved.

    Note that these tips are also applicable to women who do not experience bacterial vaginosis and those who have BV without discharge or odor.

    Learn more about Bacterial Vaginosis here. 


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Jobelle Ann Dela Cruz Bigalbal, MD

    General Practitioner

    Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Sep 27, 2023

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