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Who is affected by bacterial vaginosis

Bacterial vaginosis is the most common vaginal infection among women of childbearing age in the United States. Although bacterial vaginosis is not a sexually transmitted disease, it rarely develops in women who have never been sexually active.1

  • About half of women who have bacterial vaginosis do not have symptoms.2
  • As many as 23% of pregnant women are diagnosed with bacterial vaginosis.3 Bacterial vaginosis during pregnancy more than doubles the risk of preterm delivery.4
  • Black women have higher rates of bacterial vaginosis than those of any other racial or ethnic group.5
  • Women with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) have a higher rate of bacterial vaginosis than women without STDs.5
  • Women with only female sex partners have a higher rate of bacterial vaginosis than women with only male sex partners.5
  • Bacterial vaginosis recurs in about 1 out of 3 treated women.2
  • Sexually abused children are known to have developed bacterial vaginosis.6


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2002). Diseases characterized by vaginal discharge section of Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines. MMWR, 51(RR-6): 42-48.

  2. Joesoef MR, Schmid G (2005). Bacterial vaginosis, search date March 2004. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence. Also available online:

  3. Guise JM, et al. (2001). Screening for bacterial vaginosis in pregnancy. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 20(3, Suppl): 62-72.

  4. Leitich H, et al. (2003). Bacterial vaginosis as a risk factor for preterm delivery: A meta-analysis. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 189(1): 139-147.

  5. Schmid GP (1999). The epidemiology of bacterial vaginosis. International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 67: S17-S20.

  6. McGregor JA, French JI (2000). Bacterial vaginosis in pregnancy. Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey, 55(5): S1-S19.

Author Caroline Rea, RN, BS, MS
Editor Susan Van Houten, RN, BSN, MBA
Associate Editor Pat Truman, MATC
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD
- Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Jeanne Marrazzo, MD, MPH
- Infectious Disease
Last Updated March 17, 2008

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 17, 2008
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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