Approximately 30% of women experience bacterial vaginosis (BV), but what is BV? Bacterial vaginosis is a clinical diagnosis of a vaginal condition that causes discharge, odor and irritation, and is associated with a high bacterial diversity inside the vagina and negative reproductive health outcomes, such as pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, pre-term birth, low birth weight, and miscarriage.
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 have a higher risk of contracting 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 the causes 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. The causes behind these associations need to be studied in detail to determine the best way to prevent BV from occurring.
We are currently recruiting women over the age of 18, who will be swabbed to collect samples containing microbiota from different areas. You do not need to have bacterial vaginosis.