The prevalence, six-month persistence, and predictive values of laboratory indicators of bacterial vaginosis (nonspecific vaginitis) in asymptomatic women

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1984 Dec 15;150(8):917-24. doi: 10.1016/0002-9378(84)90381-8.


The natural course of signs and laboratory test findings indicative of bacterial vaginosis was followed in an observational noninterventive 6-month longitudinal study of 270 asymptomatic women. Only the minority of positive Gardnerella vaginalis cultures (5 of 33), wet mount clue cells (5 of 14), sniff tests (3 of 11), Papanicolaou smear clue cells (0 of 5), and discharge consistent with bacterial vaginosis (11 of 49) persisted in the absence of therapy. While these four laboratory parameters as well as chromatographic succinate/lactate ratios (performed only on the final visit) were abnormal significantly more often in patients with abnormal discharge than in those with normal discharge (p = 0.006, p less than 0.0001, p less than 0.0001, p = 0.0003, and p = 0.002, respectively), all were insensitive predictors of abnormal discharge with sensitivities ranging between 10.6% and 20.2% and abnormal test predictive values between 30.6% and 65.2%. We conclude that G. vaginalis represents indigenous flora in some normal women and that therapy is unwarranted for the incidental finding of a positive laboratory indicator of bacterial vaginosis in the patient without symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Bacteriological Techniques
  • Female
  • Gardnerella vaginalis / growth & development
  • Gardnerella vaginalis / pathogenicity
  • Humans
  • Leukorrhea / microbiology*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Ohio
  • Specimen Handling
  • Vagina / microbiology
  • Vaginitis / epidemiology
  • Vaginitis / microbiology*