Bacterial Vaginosis in Lesbians and Bisexual Women

Bailey, Julia V. MBBS, MSc, MRCGP*; Farquhar, Clare PhD†; Owen, Charlie BSc‡

Sexually Transmitted Diseases:
Article
Abstract

Objective: To determine whether bacterial vaginosis (BV) is associated with sexual activity between women.

Study Design: Cross-sectional survey of 708 new patients attending 2 sexual health clinics for lesbians and bisexual women in London, U.K. Questionnaire for demographic, sexual history, and sexual practice data linked with the results of genitourinary examination.

Results: BV was common (31.4%). The odds of BV was significantly associated with larger numbers of female sexual partners (odds ratio [OR], 1.6; confidence interval [CI], 1.05–2.44 for ≥11 compared with 1–5 partners) and with smoking (OR, 1.43; CI, 1.01–2.03), but not with sex with men or vaginal douching.

Conclusions: BV is common in women who have sex with women (WSW). The increasing odds of BV with larger numbers of female sexual partners suggest that BV may be sexually transmitted between women.

In Brief

A study of lesbians and bisexual women in London showed that bacterial vaginosis was common, and associated with numbers of female sexual partners. Findings suggest that bacterial vaginosis can be sexually transmitted between women.

Author Information

From the * Department of General Practice and Primary Care, King’s College, London, U.K.; † South Bank University, London, U.K.; and ‡ Thomas Coram Research Unit, London, U.K.

The patient questionnaire was designed by Dr. Jayne Kavanagh. The authors thank the nurses who distributed questionnaires, the women who participated, and research assistants at Thomas Coram Research Unit for help with data management. The project was supported by funding for J.B. through the Bernhard Clinic at Charing Cross Hospital, London, and East London and Essex Network of Researchers. C.F. was funded through a research fellowship from North Thames Regional Health Authority.

Correspondence: Julia V. Bailey, MBBS, MSc, MRCGP, Department of General Practice and Primary Care, 5 Lambeth Walk, London SE11 6SP, U.K. E-mail: julia.bailey@kcl.ac.uk.

Received for publication March 26, 2004, and accepted June 11, 2004.

© Copyright 2004 American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association