Bacterial vaginosis risk factors

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Sara Mehrsefat, M.D. [2]

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Common risk factors in the development of bacterial vaginosis include sexual activity, a new sex partner or multiple sex partners, woman who have sex with woman, presence of other sexually transmitted infections, douching, and cigarette smoking.[1][2]

Risk Factors

Common Risk Factors

BV is not a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Although it is less common in women who have never had sex, there is evidence that it could be linked to having a new sex partner or multiple sex partners. Common risk factors in the development of bacterial vaginosis include:[1][2][3][4][5][6]

  • Sexual activity
  • Women who have sex with women (WSW)
    • Increasing numbers of female sexual partners
    • A female partner with symptomatic BV
    • Various sexual practices
  • Presence of other sexually transmitted infections
  • Douching
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Alkaline vaginal pH (menstruation, semen)
  • Genetic susceptibility


  1. 1.0 1.1 Fethers KA, Fairley CK, Hocking JS, Gurrin LC, Bradshaw CS (2008). "Sexual risk factors and bacterial vaginosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis". Clin Infect Dis. 47 (11): 1426–35. doi:10.1086/592974. PMID 18947329.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Yen S, Shafer MA, Moncada J, Campbell CJ, Flinn SD, Boyer CB (2003). "Bacterial vaginosis in sexually experienced and non-sexually experienced young women entering the military". Obstet Gynecol. 102 (5 Pt 1): 927–33. PMID 14672465.
  3. Fethers K, Marks C, Mindel A, Estcourt CS (2000). "Sexually transmitted infections and risk behaviours in women who have sex with women". Sex Transm Infect. 76 (5): 345–9. PMC 1744205. PMID 11141849.
  4. Verstraelen H, Verhelst R, Nuytinck L, Roelens K, De Meester E, De Vos D; et al. (2009). "Gene polymorphisms of Toll-like and related recognition receptors in relation to the vaginal carriage of Gardnerella vaginalis and Atopobium vaginae". J Reprod Immunol. 79 (2): 163–73. doi:10.1016/j.jri.2008.10.006. PMID 19200604.
  5. Ness RB, Hillier SL, Richter HE, Soper DE, Stamm C, McGregor J; et al. (2002). "Douching in relation to bacterial vaginosis, lactobacilli, and facultative bacteria in the vagina". Obstet Gynecol. 100 (4): 765. PMID 12383547.
  6. Bradshaw CS, Walker SM, Vodstrcil LA, Bilardi JE, Law M, Hocking JS; et al. (2014). "The influence of behaviors and relationships on the vaginal microbiota of women and their female partners: the WOW Health Study". J Infect Dis. 209 (10): 1562–72. doi:10.1093/infdis/jit664. PMID 24285846.