Should the Partners of Women With Bacterial Vaginosis Be treated?
Although bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the most common vaginal infection, there
is debate about whether it should be considered a sexually transmitted disease
(STD) because it can occur in women who are not sexually active. In addition,
it has many of the characteristics of a change in vaginal environment rather
than an infection. In part because of this discrepancy, there is disagreement
about the possible benefit of treating male sexual partners of infected women.
While BV is generally easily treated with prescription metronidazole or clindamycin,
recurrences or refractory infections are not uncommon.
While several studies have been done to address this topic, none of them is
considered to be conclusive; they have been critiqued as having methodological
problems. Nonetheless, four of these clinical trials concluded that there was
no advantage to treating the male partner of a woman diagnosed with BV. Another
trial suggested that there was benefit in the treatment of male partners, but
this study was also flawed in several respects. Finally, one large and well-designed
trial of more than 200 monogamous women with BV treated with tinidazole concluded
that there was no benefit to routinely treat the male partners of women with
Most physicians do recommend avoiding sexual intercourse
while undergoing treatment for BV. In the case of recurrent infections, it
is important to confirm the proper diagnosis and to confirm that the antibiotics
were taken properly. While retreating with a different medication is often
helpful, some physicians recommend treating the partner in cases of recurrent
or refractory cases of BV.
Created: 2/24/2004  - Donnica Moore, M.D.