Bacterial vaginosis and infertility: cause or association?

Published:November 21, 2012DOI:



      To estimate the prevalence of bacterial vaginosis (BV) in infertile women and evaluate the effect of treatment of BV on the pregnancy rate in patients with polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD) and unexplained infertility.

      Study design

      Cohort study conducted at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in collaboration with the Microbiology Department of Sohag University Hospital, Egypt. All eligible women with female factor infertility (n = 874) were enrolled and all asymptomatic fertile women (n = 382) attending the family planning clinic of the study hospital were recruited as a control group. The study was in two phases: the first included screening all participants for BV after Gram-staining of the vaginal discharge. The second phase was concerned with evaluating the effect of treatment of BV on the cumulative pregnancy rate (CPP) in patients with PCOD (group I; n = 278) and unexplained infertility (group II; n = 170). Each group was divided into three sub-groups: groups Ia (n = 129) and IIa (n = 73) were BV positive and treated for BV; groups Ib (n = 61) and IIb (n = 49) were BV positive and did not receive treatment for BV, and groups Ic (n = 88) and IIc (n = 48) were BV negative. The prevalence of BV was compared using the Chi-square. The long rank test of Kaplan-Meier life table analysis was used to compare the CPR. A multivariate regression model was designed to define the most significant variable which affected the pregnancy rate in patients with PCOD.


      The prevalence of BV was significantly higher in infertile than fertile women (45.5% vs 15.4%). The highest prevalence was found in patients with PCOD (60.1%) and unexplained infertility (37.4%). The CPR in both patients with PCOD and unexplained infertility were significantly higher in the patients who were treated for BV. Regression model showed that BV was one of the significant factors interfering with pregnancy.


      BV is strongly implicated in female infertility and is probably an underestimated cause of unexplained infertility. Screening and treatment of BV in patients with PCOD and unexplained infertility improved the pregnancy rate considerably.
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