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J Clin Microbiol. 1990 Sep; 28(9): 2035–2039.
PMCID: PMC268099

Reservoir of four organisms associated with bacterial vaginosis suggests lack of sexual transmission.


This study consisted of a search for the possible reservoir and mode of spread of the four bacterial vaginosis-associated organisms Mobiluncus mulieris, Mobiluncus curtisii, Mycoplasma hominis, and Gardnerella vaginalis. Their occurrence in rectal, oral, and pharyngeal specimens from women with and without bacterial vaginosis, their male sexual consorts, four homosexual men, and children (altogether, 374 people) was studied. Genital samples were also obtained from all adults. All four organisms were isolated from the rectums of 45 to 62% of women with bacterial vaginosis and 10 to 14% of women without bacterial vaginosis. They also occurred in the rectums of males and children. M. hominis was recovered from the oropharynxes of 12 adults whose sexual consorts had genital occurrences of the organism. Mobiluncus spp. occurred only in the vaginas of women with bacterial vaginosis (97%). The organisms were only infrequently recovered from genital samples from 135 males. Organisms were recovered from the urethras and/or coronal sulci of 10 of 44 male consorts of women with bacterial vaginosis. However, after 2 weeks of condom use during sexual intercourse, only M. hominis remained in the urethra of one man. These findings suggest that the organisms associated with bacterial vaginosis are not spread sexually but colonize the vagina from an endogenous intestinal tract site. The pathophysiological mechanisms leading to bacterial vaginosis in a subpopulation of all women are still unknown.

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Selected References

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