Bacterial Vaginosis

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

What causes bacterial vaginosis (BV)?

Researchers have had difficulty determining exactly what causes bacterial vaginosis. At present, it seems to be that a combination of multiple bacteria must be present together for BV to develop. Bacterial vaginosis typically features a reduction in the number of the normal hydrogen peroxide-producing lactobacilli in the vagina. Simultaneously, there is an increase in concentration of other types of bacteria, especially anaerobic bacteria (bacteria that grow in the absence of oxygen). As a result, the diagnosis and treatment are not as simple as identifying and eradicating a single type of bacteria. Why the bacteria combine to cause the unbalance is unknown.

Certain risk factors have been identified that increase the chances of developing bacterial vaginosis. These risk factors for BV include:

However, the role of sexual activity in the development of the condition is not fully understood, and although most experts believe that bacterial vaginosis does not occur in women who have not had sexual intercourse, others feel that the condition can still develop in women who have not had sexual intercourse. Continue Reading

Reviewed on 4/22/2016
References
REFERENCES:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Bacterial Vaginosis."
<http://www.cdc.gov/std/bv/>

Gired, P. H., MD. "Bacterial Vaginosis." Medscape. Mar 27, 2015.
<http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/254342-overview>

Gor, H. B., MD. "Vaginitis." Medscape. Nov 03, 2015.
<http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/257141-overview>

Gired, P.H., MD. "Bacterial vaginosis." Medscape. Updated Nov 15, 2015
<http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/254342-overview>

WomensHealth.gov. "Bacterial Vaginosis." Nov 19, 2014.
<http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/bacterial-vaginosis.html>

IMAGES:

1. iStock

2. Getty Images

3. iStock

4. Getty Images

5. iStock

6. Getty Images

7. iStock

8. iStock

9. iStock

10. Getty Images
Yeast Infection Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Women's Health Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Bacterial Vaginosis - Symptoms

    What symptoms did you experience with bacterial vaginosis?

    Post View 58 Comments
  • Bacterial Vaginosis - Complications

    What complications did you experience with bacterial vaginosis?

    Post View 7 Comments
  • Bacterial Vaginosis - Treatment

    What treatments were effective for bacterial vaginosis?

    Post View 75 Comments
  • Bacterial Vaginosis - Experience

    Please describe your experience with bacterial vaginosis.

    Post View 9 Comments
  • Bacterial Vaginosis - Possible Causes

    If known, what was the cause of your bacterial vaginosis?

    Post View 9 Comments

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors