A case study was published by Josh Bleicher that linked Helicobacter pylori infection with recurrent bacterial vaginosis (BV). A 36-year-old woman had a year-long history of recurrent BV, despite repeated antibiotic treatment both vaginally and orally. After triple-antibiotic therapy for H. pylori, she remains symptom-free for both BV and H. pylori at her six-month follow-up.
Her symptoms were completely relieved after the triple therapy for H. pylori.
How do BV and H. pylori function as a team?
There is no evidence that the H. pylori caused the BV directly, but the link between vaginal yeasts that harbour H. pylori exists. Additionally, H. pylori is a known biofilm-creating bacteria, so it would be possible for it to work with Gardnerella vaginalis and friends to build or contribute to a strong biofilm that is resistant to antibiotics.
The vagina is acidic, and H. pylori are an acid-loving bacteria most often found in the stomach, which is very acidic.
There may be a co-infection of H. pylori and G. vaginalis, whereby the two work as a team to colonise.
What should I do?
If you have a partner who has H. pylori or digestive problems of any kind, or anyone close to you (family, friends you share drinks or food with) has H. pylori, you may wish to be tested. It is more difficult to culture H. pylori from the vagina, so a gut test is your best bet. You do not have to have H. pylori in the digestive tract to have it in the vagina, since it is passed on via oral sex from an infected mouth.
You may have a hard time convincing your doctor to test you since the connection is not well-known or well-studied, but you can refer them to the reference material below so they can see that there may be a link, and possibly try to figure out how to test you.
- Bleicher J, Stockdale CK. Association between recurrent bacterial vaginosis and Helicobacter pylori infection: a case report. Proceedings in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2015;5(2):Article 7 [ 6 p.].