Scientists are still finding out new things everyday about the importance of having a healthy bacterial balance in the vagina, and how important it is to our overall health. We do not understand yet how best to get this optimal balance, but we are getting closer. Having a healthy vaginal environment we think prevents other bad infections from taking over and causing us harm such as STDs. A healthy vagina (a vagina that has "good bacteria" lactobacillus) can even help prevent post-operative infections after surgical procedures of the lower genital tract. In fact treating women with antibiotics around the time of many common gynecologic procedures (hysterectomy and/or abortion) do indeed seem to help to prevent some of these dangerous post-operative infections.
While we know that BV is also associated with preterm delivery; unfortunately, it has not been shown that treating BV among pregnant women will prevent preterm delivery. Many researchers think this is because more is probably at play with preterm delivery than simply a bacterial imbalance in the vagina. Scientist believe that other factors like stress, racial prejudice, and genetics also play an important role in preterm delivery. Currently, BV is thought to be more of a marker (present among higher risk women) than a true cause, but we still do not know for sure all the mechanisms at play for preterm delivery. Read more about BV and preterm delivery:
New Research done by Doctor Christina Gossman, a research fellow at the Ragon Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital, found that women in South Africa with certain pro inflammatory bacterial colonies in the vagina were 4 times more likely to contract HIV as compared to women with healthier bacterial environments (a vagina with a predominance of lactobacillus). The authors concluded that these findings may help target future therapies to prevent the acquisition of HIV.
see more on this study at: