Is your recurrent BV caused by H. pylori?

A case study was published by Josh Bleicher that linked Helicobacter pylori infection with recurrent bacterial vaginosis (BV), involving a 36-year-old woman with a year-long history of recurrent BV, despite repeated antibiotic treatment both vaginally and orally. After triple-antibiotic therapy for H. pylori, she remains symptom-free for both BV and H. pylori at her six-month follow-up.

How do BV and H. pylori function as a team?

There is no evidence that the H. pylori caused the BV directly, but the link between vaginal yeasts that harbour H. pylori exists. Additionally, H. pylori is a known biofilm-creating bacteria, so it would be possible for it to work with Gardnerella vaginalis and friends to build or contribute to a strong biofilm that is resistant to antibiotics.

The vagina is acidic, and H. pylori are an acid-loving bacteria most often found in the stomach, which is very acidic. There may be a co-infection of H. pylori and G. vaginalis, whereby the two work as a team to colonise.

What to look out for

If you have a partner who has H. pylori or digestive problems of any kind, or anyone close to you (family, friends you share drinks or food with) has H. pylori, you may wish to be tested for this microbe specifically.

It is more difficult to culture H. pylori from the vagina than the gut, but you do not have to have H. pylori in your digestive tract to have it in your vagina, since it is passed on via oral sex from an infected mouth.

You may have a hard time convincing your doctor to test you, since the connection is not well-known or well-studied, but you can refer them to the reference material below so they can see that there may be a link, and possibly try to figure out how to test you.

References

  1. Bleicher J, Stockdale CK. Association between recurrent bacterial vaginosis and Helicobacter pylori infection: a case report. Proceedings in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2015;5(2):Article 7 [ 6 p.].



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Jessica Lloyd - Vulvovaginal Specialist Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)
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