CHARLESTON, S.C. — Smoking has been linked with the occurrence of bacterial vaginosis, but a recent study further elucidating its effects on microvaginal flora suggests that smoking is particularly associated with heavy growth of Gardnerella vaginalis and Mycoplasma hominis.
“I think at this point, investigations are needed to determine if smoking should be considered a modifiable risk factor for bacterial vaginosis,” Harold C. Wiesenfeld, M.D., said at the annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society for Obstetrics and Gynecology.
In the prospective cross-sectional study of 749 nonpregnant women, 56% were smokers, and most of them were daily smokers. Bacterial vaginosis was identified in 66% of the overall study population, compared with 69% of the smokers.
Heavy colonization with G. vaginalis was present in 72% of smokers vs. 64% of nonsmokers, and heavy colonization with M. hominis was present in 43% of smokers vs. 32% of nonsmokers.
Colonization with H2O2-producing lactobacilli was present in 33% of smokers vs. 41% of nonsmokers, said Dr. Wiesenfeld of the department of ob.gyn. and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh.
The women studied were recruited from an STD clinic, family planning clinics, and ambulatory gynecology clinics. All underwent a standardized interview and physical examination that included a Gram's stain, Trichomonas vaginalis culture, and semiquantitative cultures of vaginal fluid for aerobic and anaerobic organisms.
Additionally, cervical samples were cultured for Neisseria gonorrhoeae and tested by polymerase chain reaction for Chlamydia trachomatis.
Smoking in this study was not associated with gonorrhea, C. trachomatis, or T. vaginalis infection.