Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) | Questions & Answers | 2015 STD Treatment Guidelines

Question: What are the screening and treatment recommendations for sex partners of patients with recurrent bacterial vaginosis?

Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is an infection characterized by disruption of the natural vaginal flora with resultant overgrowth of anaerobic bacteria that cause increased vaginal discharge and foul odor.  Sexual activity is a risk factor for development of BV, but there is no clear evidence that all cases of BV involve transmission of a distinct pathogen, thus it is not a sexually transmitted infection in the strictest sense.   There is no evidence to screen asymptomatic women for bacterial vaginosis.  Similarly, there is currently no evidence to treat asymptomatic sex partners of women with BV.   This holds true, even among women who have sex with women, despite the increased prevalence within this population.  

There is no clear definition of recurrent bacterial vaginosis, but relapse after treatment and recurrent infection is common.   Women should be asked to return to their provider should symptoms of vaginosis reoccur.  Women with multiple recurrences may benefit from chronic suppressive therapy.