NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - For women who have a high risk
of contracting a sexually transmitted disease, their risk of
developing bacterial vaginosis and the associated changes in
vaginal microflora is reduced if they use condoms during every
sexual encounter, according to a report in the journal
Bacterial vaginosis is caused by an imbalance of the
bacteria normally found in a woman's vagina, referred to as
vaginal microflora, which is upset by an overgrowth of bacteria
not usually present. It is the most common vaginal infection in
women of child-bearing age. Symptoms include discharge, odor,
pain, itching and burning.
Although any woman can get bacterial vaginosis, some
activities or behaviors can upset the normal balance of
bacteria in the vagina and put women at increased risk. These
include having a new sex partner or multiple sex partners and
using an intrauterine device (IUD) for contraception.
It remains unclear how effective condoms are at reducing
bacterial sexually transmitted infections, explain Dr. Roberta
B. Ness and colleagues from the University of Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania. They therefore investigated condom use, bacterial
vaginosis and the growth of vaginal microorganisms associated
with bacterial vaginosis in 871 women at high risk for sexually
Overall, women who consistently used condoms (10/10 sex
acts) had a 45-percent decreased risk of bacterial vaginosis
compared with women who did not use condoms, the authors
For women at an intermediate stage of bacterial imbalance,
consistent condom use had even more protective effects (63
percent risk reduction)," the researchers found.
The study findings "lend some support to the theory that
bacterial vaginosis is sexually transmitted, and provides a
further rationale for recommending that women use condoms to
reduce the risk of bacterial vaginosis," the investigators
SOURCE: Epidemiology, November 2007.