Gardnerella vaginalis, which causes bacterial vaginosis (BV), is not a sexually transmitted disease (STD). It is typically caused by a disturbance in the normal vaginal flora.
There are a number of infections that are transmitted through sexual contact. Gardnerella vaginalis classically causes a malodorous discharge and fishy smell on KOH test (KOH "whiff" test) that can easily be confused with a STD, but for counseling purposes it is important to know that it is the result of a disruption of normal vaginal flora and not sexual transmission. Appropriate treatment is metronidazole for the patient only. For STDs, treatment of sexual partners and appropriate counseling (safe sex practices such as condoms) are an important part of treatment.
Van Vranken discusses the prevention and treatment of different sexually transmitted diseases. She states that every attempt should be made to ensure that the sexual partner of the patient is also seen by a medical professional for treatment. If this is not possible, however, the Centers for Disease Control recommend expedited partner treatment, in which the patient is handed treatment to give to the partner.
Bilardi et al discuss the emotional impact of recurrent BV on women. They show that women were often confused, frustrated, and significantly changed their sexual habits because of BV. The most significant impact noted was on self-esteem and sexual activity.
Figure A shows Trichomonas vaginalis as viewed under a light microscope - a pear-shaped, ciliated, motile organism.
Illustration A lists the symptoms and diagnostic tests for the most common STDs in North America.
Illustration B shows "clue cells," small rod-shaped bacteria on cervical squamous cells, which is the classic finding of bacterial vaginosis.
Answer 1: Pediculosis pubis, which causes the infection commonly known as "crabs," is transmitted sexually.
Answer 2: Treponema pallidum, the spirochete that causes syphilis, is an STD.
Answer 3: Neisseria gonorrhoeae is one of the most common STDs in North America.
Answer 4: Chlamydia trachomitis is the most common STD in North America.
Van Vranken M. Prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases: an update. Am Fam Physician. 2007 Dec 15;76(12):1827-32. Review.
PMID:18217521 (Link to Abstract)
Bilardi JE, Walker S, Temple-Smith M, McNair R, Mooney-Somers J, Bellhouse C, Fairley CK, Chen MY, Bradshaw C. The Burden of Bacterial Vaginosis: Women's Experience of the Physical, Emotional, Sexual and Social Impact of Living with Recurrent Bacterial Vaginosis. PLoS One. 2013 Sep 11;8(9):e74378.
PMID:24040236 (Link to Abstract)