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Condoms lower the risk of bacterial vaginosis

Women who use condoms consistently can lower their risk for bacterial vaginosis and associated changes in vaginal microflora.

Condoms lower the risk of bacterial vaginosis

Women who use condoms consistently can lower their risk for bacterial vaginosis and associated changes in vaginal microflora. Bacterial vaginosis is caused by an imbalance of the bacteria normally found in a woman's vagina, referred to as vaginal microflora, which is upset by an overgrowth of bacteria not usually present. It is the most common vaginal infection in women of childbearing age. Symptoms include discharge, odour, pain, itching and burning. Although any woman can get bacterial vaginosis, some activities or behaviours can upset the normal balance of bacteria in the vagina and put women at increased risk. These include having a new sex partner or multiple sex partners and using an intrauterine device (IUD) for contraception. It was unclear how effective condoms are at reducing bacterial sexually transmitted infections. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania investigated condom use, bacterial vaginosis and the growth of vaginal microorganisms associated with bacterial vaginosis in 871 women at high risk for sexually transmitted diseases. Overall, women who consistently used condoms (10/10 sex acts) had a 45 percent decreased risk of bacterial vaginosis compared with women who did not use condoms. For women at an intermediate stage of bacterial imbalance, consistent condom use had even more protective effects (63 percent risk reduction). The findings support the theory that bacterial vaginosis is sexually transmitted, and provides a further rationale for recommending that women use condoms to reduce the risk of bacterial vaginosis.
Epidemiology,
November 2007
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