February 12, 2016

Bacteria in women linked to contributing STDs, preterm birth (AUDIO)

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis has found a link in a bacterial condition in women that can contribute to preterm birth, and sexually transmitted diseases. Research instructor Warren Lewis says bacterial vaginosis affects one in every three women, and some may not be aware they have it.

He says it’s more common than a yeast infection, and often does not cause significant symptoms. “What we looked at specifically are the formation of clue cells,” Lewis says. “Those cells are formed when the bacteria go and stick to the epithelial cells, so the surface of the interior of the vagina has these surface cells and bacteria will go and stick to them.”

Warren says however, he’s uncertain of where the bacteria stems from or what species of bacteria actually causes the condition. “There’s quite a bit of controversy in the field about what species, or what bacterial organisms are causing the symptoms,” he said.

New research suggests that an organism called “Gardnerella vaginalis” is likely to be the cause, though not for certain. Gardnerella vaginalis is commonly found in the vaginal fluids of women with bacterial vaginosis and even in some women who don’t have the condition.

AUDIO: Mary Farucci reports. (1:04)