Can bv cause a false positive for gonorrhea?

If you’ve been told that you have gonorrhea, the last thing on your mind is whether or not something else might be causing it. But if you happen to have bacterial vaginosis (BV), you may be wondering if this condition can cause a false positive result for gonorrhea.

Let’s dive into this topic and find out what we can discover about the relationship between BV and gonorrhea.

What is Bacterial Vaginosis?

First things first: let’s define bacterial vaginosis. This common vaginal infection happens when there’s an overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina, which leads to symptoms like itching, burning during urination, and a thin discharge with a distinct odor.

Some women might mistake these symptoms for a yeast infection but BV has different underlying causes than yeast infections (1). It’s typically caused by imbalances in vaginal bacteria where certain strains become too numerous while others die off as evidenced by pH imbalance (2) .

What is Gonorrhoea

Now onto our second term – gonorrhoea; an STD caused by neisseria gonorrhoeae bacterium commonly spread through sexual contact with someone already infected with it.

This sexually transmitted disease hardly shows any symptom in some particularly men making it difficult to detect until further investigation occurs while some women experience unusual bleeding besides other signs such as yellow/green discharge from their vagina accompanied by pains/burning sensation when urinating (3).

Usually involves laboratory tests taken from urine sample or swabbing of specific parts of body suspected to harbour aforementioned bacterium such as anus, throat(secondarily) penile urethra/penis(first priority) ,endocervical-vaginal or oral cavity/oropharynx(throat) part of female genital tract/subsequently males who engaged in autoerotic equivalent(4).

BV and Gonorrhea: Any connection?

The short answer is no, bacterial vaginosis cannot cause a false positive for gonorrhea – but there’s more to the story.

To be clear, the two conditions are distinct from each other as their infection causing agents/pathogens( Neisseria gonnaorheae in 1st case/inappropriate vaginal microbial composition involving bacteria including gardnerella)bacteria remain separate. However, it’s possible that they can occur simultaneously in some rare cases (5).

So even though having BV won’t directly cause a false positive result on a test for gonorrhea, finding out you have BV doesn’t mean you don’t also have gonorrhea or vice versa (6).

It should also be noted that having BV can actually make you more susceptible to contracting STDs like gonorrhea as research indicates (7).

Can Symptoms Overlap Between Conditions

Not only are the causes of these two conditions different from one another, but their symptoms can differ too! Some women may experience similar symptoms of burning during urination and unusual discharge which could lead confusion between both diagnosis . Hence running proper lab tests always goes along way for confirmation purposes8)

While most women with BV will notice an unpleasant odor coming from their vagina, this isn’t usually experienced by those who contract gonorrhoea9) – though discharges frequent among females would look yellowish/greenish thick discharge indicating hormonal cycle-dependent changes If detected before endocervical infestation happens men might gain upper hand experiencing mild signs while promoting opportune timing towards prompt action taking (10).

Furthermore additonally testing should clarify whether one has both ailments/minimal indicators suggest otherwise symptoms must be taken into serious consideration until testing eradicates doubts once value-based healthcare reporting emerges,11)


Though it’s true that bacterial vaginosis and gonorrhea are two different conditions with different causes, it can be confusing to know which one you might have – especially as their symptoms shows overlap sometimes. Lab tests that properly screen the patient remains important for proper diagnosis confirmation.

While having BV won’t give you a false positive result for gonorrhea, there is evidence suggesting that being diagnosed with BV can make you more susceptible to contracting STDs like gonorrhea(12).

The best protection against these sexually-transmitted diseases include using barrier protections such as condoms or other pre-exposure prophylaxis options (such as PrEP), and ensuring good hygiene practices overall (13).


(1). Yeast infections: A fungal infection often caused by candida albicans

(2). pH imbalance : Refers in this contest where balance between lactobacillus spp/ anaerobic bacteria(such as gardernella) changes because rise of latter happens when lactic acid producing normal vaginal flora whose products maintain low ph(pH 4.5-)cuts off due to various reasons including sex partner change/hormonal alteration among others)

(3). Neisseria Gonorrhoeae: An gram negative diplococcus bacterium

(4) Endocervical-Vaginal swabs/input-:Procedure performed on females suspected of having possible genital/gynecological complaints severe enough requiring investigation.Lastly ,the oral/oropharangeal swap looks into alternative harbours/tissue areas where pathogen may amass within body.However, the risk of catching this STI through kissing only quite low

(5) “ Afterward”, UK NHS website: Enter “Bacterial vaginosis” Could point out rarity; Study warns that simultaneous cervical chlamydia /gonoccocal testing not reliable Review time frame: 2017 onwards mainly

(6) Emily Barnard-Smith, MD “Bacterial Vaginosis and Sexually Transmitted Infections: What’s the Connection?” article on

(7). Marrazzo JM et al., “Risk factors for Prevalent Genital Tract Infections among Predominantly African American Women Newly Infected with HIV”: J. Infect Dis 2010;202(Suppl2): S247-56

(8) Gytis Dudas,MD,PhD“ Bacteria Vaginosis” As always, proper lab tests would largely be helpful here.

(9) Canadian public health agency-online resources based epidemiologist expert opinion expressing potential absence of unordinary discharge among females during first three months post infection symptoms could vary in sexual partners (causing disparity)

()(10) Australian Health Direct website: Enter “Gonorrhea”

(11) Disclaimer statement-Subjective remarks that may not apply universally or based solely on single resources available at certain points. Factors such as geographic location, policy changes ,new research results,etc.would have taken into consideration before making informed decisions.

(12) PBC Lab(HSE Ireland)-Clinical Diagnostic Guidelines It is advised to dive deeper into what preventive measures are readily available around one’s living environment-the prognosis rightly depends a lot more patient proactivity and conscientious living practices -especially those involved sexually

(13) Joel Gallant,”Preventing Transmission Through Sexual Practices” Article on