Background/introduction Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal infection affecting women of childbearing age. While the aetiology and transmissibility of BV remain unclear, there is strong evidence to suggest an association between BV and sexual activity.
Aim(s)/objectives This study aimed to explore women’s views and experiences of the triggers for BV onset and factors associated with recurrence
Methods A descriptive, social constructionist approach was chosen as the framework for the study. Thirty five women of varying sexual orientation who had experienced recurrent BV in the past five years took part in semi-structured interviews.
Results The majority of women predominantly reported sexual contact triggered the onset of BV and sexual and non-sexual factors precipitated recurrence. Recurrence was most commonly referred to in terms of a ‘flare-up’ of symptoms. The majority of women did not think BV was an STI however many reported being informed this by their clinician. Single women who attributed BV onset to sex with casual partners were most likely to display self-blame tendencies and to consider changing their future sexual behaviour. Women who have sex with women (WSW) were more inclined to believe their partner was responsible for the transmission of or reinfection with BV and seek partner treatment or change their sexual practices.
Discussion/conclusion Findings from this study strongly suggest women believe that BV onset is associated with sexual activity, concurring with epidemiological data which increasingly suggest sexual contact is associated with the development of BV. There was some evidence to suggest possible transmission among WSW reinforcing the need for new approaches to treatment and management strategies.
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