Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a vaginal infection caused by a replacement of the normal vaginal lactobacilli by an overgrowth of microorganisms, which can include anaerobic bacteria, Mycoplasma bacteria, and a bacterium known as Gardnerella vaginalis.

Incidence and Transmission

The presence of moderate levels of bacterial microorganisms in the vaginal environ­ment is normal. However, under conditions of decreased levels of beneficial lactobacilli, an overgrowth of other vaginal microorganisms occurs. This can result in high concen­trations of one or more of the bacterial microorganisms associated with BV (Marrazzo et al., 2011). BV is the most common vaginal infection in U. S. women (Centers for Disease Control, 2009i). Although the role of sexual transmission in BV is not fully understood, it is believed that coitus often provides a mode of transmission for the

Sexually Transmitted Infections

urethritis

An inflammation of the urethral tube. cystitis

An infection of the bladder.

infection. BV occurs more frequently among sexually active women than among sexu­ally inactive women (Doskoch, 2005). Furthermore, although BV is common among women in general, it is even more common among women with female sex partners (Gorgos et al., 2011). However, BV is not necessarily sexually transmitted, because this infection has been diagnosed in teenagers and women who have not experienced sexual intercourse (Coco & Vandenbosche, 2000).

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