Study: the link between BV and inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s and colitis)

Researchers have found a link between bacteria counts in urine of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients. The 2014 study​1​ was set up to look into the well-known higher incidence of poor reproductive health in those with IBD, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. 

It is known that in IBD, an altered interaction with microbes is important, so the researchers looked for the cause.

The study into inflammatory bowel disease and BV

Using urine specimens of patients with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and random patients at a hospital for non-IBD-related medical conditions. The urine was analysed for bacteria attached to epithelial cells.


The urine of IBD patients contains a significantly increased incidence of Gardnerella vaginalis biofilms than the control group.

Those with Crohn’s disease had slightly less at 38 per cent, while 43 per cent of ulcerative colitis patients tested positive, compared with the control group, where just 16 per cent tested positive for G. vaginalis biofilms in urine.

There was no link found between current disease activity, the history or presences of fistulas, and G. vaginalis biofilms.

Patients with steroid-refractory/dependent disease had far more G. vaginalis biofilms. There were no significant differences in the number of epithelial cells and leukocytes and total bacterial counts.

Conclusions of the study

There is a significant link between IBD and G. vaginalis biofilms. The researchers believe this to be possibly due to an epithelial barrier dysfunction in the vagina and genital tract.

Long-term steroid therapy may need a rethink in some patients.


  1. 1.
    Schilling J, Loening-Baucke V, Dörffel Y. Increased Gardnerella vaginalis urogenital biofilm in inflammatory bowel disease. Journal of Crohn’s and Colitis. Published online June 2014:543-549. doi:10.1016/j.crohns.2013.11.015

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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)