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Keywords:

  • Vaginitis;
  • African American;
  • sexual health;
  • sexual intimacy;
  • health disparities;
  • healthcare satisfaction;
  • qualitative analysis

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the impact of recurrent bacterial vaginosis (BV) and its treatment on quality of life (QOL), acceptance of current treatment options, and psychosocial issues related to lifestyle practices associated with BV.

Data sources: Qualitative and quantitative data were obtained from 23 African American women with recurrent BV. Participants completed a short survey, developed by the researchers based on a prior study which examined factors associated with recurrent BV, and a one-on-one interview assessing the impact of BV, current treatment modalities, and lifestyle practices related to recurrent BV.

Conclusions: Emerging themes suggest that recurrent BV is associated with psychosocial issues that are currently not addressed in a typical office visit. Reported feelings of shame and embarrassment often cause women to engage in hypervigilant routines of hygiene that negatively impact their professional, personal, and intimate relationships, significantly affecting their QOL.

Implications for practice: Without proper education, advice, and support, BV is perpetuated by lifestyle practices leading to recurrent infection and associated symptoms. With proper guidance, it is expected that women with recurrent BV will see an improvement in their QOL, with fewer complications from BV infection, and healthy relationships with intimate partners, family, and friends.