Methods: A descriptive, social constructionist approach was chosen as the framework for the study.Thirty-five women of varying sexual orientation who had experienced recurrent BV in the past 5 years took part in semi-structured interviews.
Results: The majority of women reported frustration and dissatisfaction with current treatment regimens and low levels of satisfaction with the clinical management of BV. Overall, women disliked taking antibiotics regularly, commonly experienced adverse side effects from treatment and felt frustrated at having symptoms recur quite quickly after treatment. Issues in clinical care included inconsistency in advice, misdiagnosis and inappropriate diagnostic approaches and insensitive or dismissive attitudes. Women were more inclined to report positive clinical experiences with sexual health physicians than primary care providers. Women’s frustrations led most to try their own self-help remedies and lifestyle modifications in an attempt to treat symptoms and prevent recurrences, including well-known risk practices such as douching.
Conclusion: In the face of considerable uncertainty about the cause of BV, high rates of recurrence, unacceptable treatment options and often insensitive and inconsistent clinical management,women are trying their own self-help remedies and lifestyle modifications to prevent recurrences,often with little effect. Clinical management of BV could be improved through the use of standardised diagnostic approaches, increased sensitivity and understanding of the impact of BV, and the provision of evidence based advice about known BV related risk factors.