Is bacterial vaginosis a disease?

Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2018 Jan;102(2):553-558. doi: 10.1007/s00253-017-8659-9. Epub 2017 Nov 25.


Bacterial vaginosis (BV) has been described as a disease, a disorder, a vaginal inflammation, an infection, a microbial dysbiosis, a condition, and in some women, a normal situation. In order to fit the definition of a disease, BV would have to be a disorder of function that produces specific signs or symptoms or affects the vagina in an aberrant way. Yet, there is little consistency in patients reporting signs and symptoms when BV is diagnosed, nor the appearance of aberrations to the vagina. If BV is not a disease, there are implications for its management and coverage of treatment costs, and for the conclusions drawn in a multitude of previous studies. It is time for BV to be redefined and for the various subsets to be given a separate terminology with specific methods of diagnosis and appropriate treatment and preventive strategies.

Keywords: Bacterial vaginosis; Disease; Dysbiosis; Inflammation; Microbiota.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Disease Management*
  • Dysbiosis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Metagenome
  • Microbiota
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use
  • Vagina / microbiology*
  • Vagina / physiopathology
  • Vaginosis, Bacterial / diagnosis
  • Vaginosis, Bacterial / physiopathology*
  • Vaginosis, Bacterial / prevention & control
  • Vaginosis, Bacterial / therapy