9 Causes of Bacterial Vaginosis

Many women want to know the cause of bacterial vaginosis so that they can take steps to reduce the risk of developing this vaginal infection. If you know exactly what it is and why it happens then it is much easier to avoid.


What is Bacterial Vaginosis

This lovely flower is not Gardnerella vaginalisBacterial vaginosis, or BV, is caused by an INCREASE in the number of certain types of bacteria in the vagina. Frequently, these are anaerobic bacteria such as Gardnerella vaginalis, Prevotella species, Mobiluncus species and Mycoplasma hominis. At the same time, there is a DECREASE in the number of Lactobacilli present.

All women naturally have bacteria living in the vaginal area and the good bacteria stop pathogens and yeast from multiplying. Anything that upsets the balance of the vaginal microflora can become a cause of bacterial vaginosis.


Possible Causes of Bacterial Vaginosis

These are all factors that some experts believe can trigger an imbalance in the vaginal microflora.

  1. taking antibiotics

  2. use of an IUD (intra-uterine contraceptive device)

  3. having multiple sex partners

  4. using tampons

  5. using a diaphragm

  6. starting sexual activity at a young age

  7. oral to genital sexual activity, saliva appears to be the culprit

  8. douching

  9. women having sex with women

The factors mentioned above have always been considered "standard" risk factors in what causes bacterial vaginosis, but a 2006 study did not completely endorse this. This study of 139 women found that a past history of BV, a REGULAR sex partner, and female sex partners were the only factors that were "significantly associated" with BV recurring.1

Taking hormonal contraception decreased the risk.1

You'll notice that many of the possible causes are sex related. Bacterial vaginosis is NOT a sexual disease but because sexual activity can change the vaginal microflora, sex can act as a trigger and become a cause of bacterial vaginosis. The presence of semen (sperm, cum)after ejaculation raises the vaginal pH which can encourage the wrong type of bacteria to flourish.

Any woman can get bacterial vaginosis, although it is rare in virgins.1

You can not catch bacteria vaginosis from toilet seats, bedding, swimming pools or by touching objects in your enironment.2

Certain probiotics have a good reputation in treating Bacterial Vaginosis at home.



1. Catriona S. Bradshaw, Anna N. Morton, Jane Hocking, Suzanne M. Garland, Margaret B. Morris, Lorna M. Moss, Leonie B. Horvath, Irene Kuzevska, Christopher K. Fairley. High Recurrence Rates of Bacterial Vaginosis over the Course of 12 Months after Oral Metronidazole Therapy and Factors Associated with Recurrence. The Journal of Infectious Diseases 2006;193:1478?1486

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention