Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is a common problem in primary care. BV symptoms often have a negative impact on patients’ quality of life and may predispose to gynaecological problems. Some patients experience recurring episodes of BV. This study’s objective is to identify possible factors that may be associated with BV recurrence and describe the characteristics of these patients and interventions performed by general practitioners.
In this retrospective cohort study, we used data from a primary care registration network in the Netherlands in the period 2015-2020. We analysed differences between patients with recurrent BV and patients with a single episode of BV in terms of characteristics and interventions performed by general practitioners.
We found that patients with recently prescribed antibiotics, and a medical history of sexually transmitted infections and/or Candidiasis significantly more often presented with recurrent BV. Patients with recurrent BV had more remote consultations and less in-person consultations than single-episode patients. The reason for encounter was more often a request for medication. Regarding GPs’ diagnostic and therapeutic interventions, microbiological tests were more frequently performed in recurrent BV patients. Moreover, most patients in both groups were prescribed oral metronidazole most frequently.
Our findings might help GPs to better recognise patients at risk of recurrence. GPs could re-evaluate their approach to the diagnosis and treatment of recurrent BV, opting for in-person consultation and using standardised diagnostic criteria and microbiological testing in patients with recurrent complaints. Antibiotic use for other conditions in these patients may lead to new BV episodes.

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