What are the Different Causes of Bacterial Vaginosis?

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  • Written By: Lee Johnson
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 28 July 2019
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Bacterial vaginosis is essentially an upset in the balance of the bacteria inside the woman’s vagina. This can result in vaginal discharge or unpleasant odor, but in many cases, it can be present without symptoms. Doctors are unsure of what the causes of bacterial vaginosis are, but the research in the area suggests some common factors in cases of the condition, and there are a few things that have been shown to correlate with the occurrence of vaginosis, such as using intrauterine contraceptive devices and smoking cigarettes.

Although doctors are unsure of the precise causes of bacterial vaginosis, they are aware that it is in some way related to the balance of bacteria present in the vagina. There are essentially a collection of good and bad bacteria inside the vagina, and the good bacteria prevent the bad ones from growing as much. Usually, a balance is achieved between the natural bacteria that occupy the vagina, and none of them grow in abundance. Bacterial vaginosis is marked by an increase in certain types of bacteria, such as anaerobic bacteria, and a decrease in the hydrogen peroxide-producing bacteria.


The condition was previously called Gardnerella vaginosis, because they believed that the Gardnerella bacteria were the main causes of bacterial vaginosis. This was an oversimplified account of the true cause of the condition, and the change in name reflects this discovery. Doctors now know that out of the many bacteria naturally present in the vagina, the abundant growth of any one of the several varieties can cause vaginosis.

Although the specific causes of bacterial vaginosis are unknown, doctors have been able to identify several factors that would make a woman more likely to develop the condition. It is a common problem, with an estimated one-third of women suffering from it, and there are many different things that can make someone more likely to contract the condition. Woman are at risk if they are sexually active, smoke cigarettes, use intrauterine contraceptives, have recently take antibiotics or use vaginal douches. These things have not been identified as definite causes of bacterial vaginosis, but they increase the risk of developing it.

Bacterial vaginosis is not the only condition that causes vaginal discharge, and any woman who believes she is infected should consult her doctor. The discharge might be the result of a sexually transmitted disease or other condition. The causes of bacterial vaginosis have not been identified, so a woman has no way of knowing whether she is likely to be affected.



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