Study: does BV cause infertility in women?

Researchers looked into whether bacterial vaginosis rates are higher in women with tubal factor infertility, compared with those who have other causes of infertility.

     The study
Seven-hundred-and-forty-nine women undergoing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) had a vaginal swab taken at the time of their egg collection, with the smear Gram stained and graded as normal, intermediate or BV.

Smear results:

  • Normal – 64 per cent
  • Intermediate – 12 per cent
  • BV 24 per cent

The rates of BV versus cause of infertility:

  • Tubal factor – 36 per cent
  • Male factor – 16 per cent
  • Anovulation – 33 per cent
  • Endometriosis – 13 per cent
  • Unexplained – 19 per cent

The researchers concluded that, after controlling for various factors, women with tubal infertility were significantly more likely (three-fold increase) to have BV than women with endometriosis, male factor, or unexplained infertility. Women with anovulation were also three times more likely to have BV than women with endometriosis or male factor infertility, supporting suggestions that there is a hormonal influence on vaginal flora.


Wilson, J., Ralph, S., & Rutherford, A. (2002). Rates of bacterial vaginosis in women undergoing in vitro fertilisation for different types of infertilityBJOG : An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 109(6), 714-7.