30% of North American women experience Bacterial vaginosis at least once in their lifetime. Up to 51% of women can be affected in other parts of the world.
Only a few treatment options are available for bacterial vaginosis. Even after treatment, 30% of women will experience a recurrence of BV within 3 months and 50% will get BV again within a year of initial treatment.
Women who have bacterial vaginosis are more at risk for sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, trichomoniasis and vaginal herpes. The reason for this increased risk is not well understood.
Many women experience asymptomatic bacterial vaginosis, where there is a large diversity of bacterial species present without the clinical symptoms. As well, the tests used to diagnose BV are not able to identify all women with bacterial diversity. These women are still at risk for reproductive health problems.
Bacterial vaginosis is associated with negative reproductive health outcomes such as pre-term birth, miscarriage, low infant birth weight and pelvic inflammatory disease. The increase in inflammation during BV is thought to contribute to poor health, but reasons causing these effects need to be further investigated.
The cause(s) of bacterial vaginosis are largely unknown. Certain hygiene and sexual practices are associated with bacterial vaginosis. However other factors, such as diet, may also contribute to BV and require further investigation. Reasons behind these associations need to be studied in detail to determine the best way to prevent BV from occurring.