ACCORDING to Dr Taheera Hassim, a gynaecologist and obstetrician at Netcare Sunninghill Hospital in Joburg, bacterial vaginosis is one of the most common vaginal infections affecting young women.
This is a mild infection in the vagina which develops when there is an imbalance between the helpful "good" bacteria in the vagina and invasive "bad" bacteria.
While it is is not a sexually transmitted disease, Dr Hassim said, the chances of developing the condition seem to increase with the number of sexual partners a woman has, although even women who have had no sex also get it."
Dr Kim Sonntag, a gynaecologist at the Rondebosch Medical Centre in Cape Town, said that the main symptom of bacterial vaginosis is a vaginal discharge and an unpleasant odour.
Other symptoms can include pain and itching, although most young women with the infection might not notice any symptoms. This is concerning as untreated bacterial vaginosis may cause other problems.
"People also mistake it for thrush. Thrush commonly has a thick, white vaginal discharge with itching. Bacterial vaginosis has a discoloured or milky, watery type discharge."
It is more likely to occur when women douche. Douching is washing or cleaning the inside of the vagina with water or other fluids.
"The vagina is like the eye in that it cleans itself. If you have an embarrassing problem go and speak to your doctor.
You might need to take a special antibiotic for a week but you must immediately stop douching. "You do not need to wash your vagina. This only makes bacterial vaginosis worse," she said.