'Don't ignore it. Go to the doctor and get it sorted out' 

Helen had two episodes of bacterial vaginosis (BV) a few months apart. Now that she's been given the all-clear, she wants to encourage other women to seek treatment.

"I first noticed a really bad fishy smell," she says. "I'm a very hygienic person and it was just awful to have that smell coming from me. I've got a partner, so of course I was very embarrassed. When it comes to having sex, it's very off-putting. I was even worried that people would smell it when I went out. I was changing my knickers three times a day."

At first, Helen tried to mask the smell by using scented soaps. But it only made the smell worse. She eventually went to her GP two weeks after the smell first appeared.

When Helen told her GP about her symptoms, he diagnosed BV without examining her or giving her a test. She feels that she would like to have had more information. "He didn't really explain anything to me," she says. "All he did was tell me I had BV and gave me some antibiotics, so I'm really none the wiser about it. He never told me what might have caused it."

Helen was given a five-day course of antibiotics. She had to take a pill three times a day and avoid alcohol. The antibiotics worked, and the smell had disappeared completely two days into the course.

However, a few months later, the smell came back. This time, Helen says, it was slightly different. She also had some discharge. Helen went to the doctor straight away and was given antibiotics again. She returned for a swab after she finished her course and was given the all-clear.

Helen urges any women who think they may have BV to go to the doctor as soon as they realise something is wrong.

"It's a really embarrassing thing and people don't talk about it, but you really shouldn't ignore it. Just get down to the doctor's and get it sorted out."

Page last reviewed: 12/10/2015

Next review due: 12/10/2017