By Hilary White

December 17, 2007 ( – Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a sexually transmitted disease that a new study has found has a higher than normal prevalence among practicing lesbians. The peer review journal Sexually Transmitted Infections, is carrying a small study comparing the instances of BV among lesbians with that among heterosexual women. The result was that of 189 heterosexuals and 171 lesbians recruited, 25.7 per cent of lesbians compared with 14.4 per cent of heterosexuals carried the disease.

The study concluded that “Women who identified as lesbians have a 2.5-fold increased likelihood of BV compared with heterosexual women.”

BV, although previously considered a “nuisance infection”, may cause serious complications if left untreated. These can include increased susceptibility to HIV, and may present other complications for pregnant women. It has also been associated with an increase in the development of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) following surgical abortion or hysterectomy.

Public health professionals admit that the problem with tracking the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases among lesbians is the lack of research. What studies have been undertaken, however, show that most women in such relationships have had sexual relations with at least one man in the past and can transmit possible infections on to other women, sometimes years later. Commonly, such infections can include Chlamydia and Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) the infection that has been linked to cervical cancer.

Among the lesbian subculture, it is widely believed that STDs are a problem only for “straight” women and homosexual men. But studies are slowly coming to light that show otherwise.

In Montreal, a study of the lesbian subculture found that nearly 90 per cent had been diagnosed with Chlamydia, and 50 per cent with bacterial vaginosis. The April 2000 edition of the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology reports of two lesbians diagnosed with pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which is usually caused by untreated Chlamydia or gonorrhea.