Quantitative bacteriology of the vaginal flora

John G. Bartlett, Andrew B. Onderdonk, Ellen Drude, Carolyn Goldstein, Marlene Anderka, Susan Alpert, William M. McCormack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

186 Scopus citations


Quantitative bacteriology was performed on vaginal secretions from healthy adult women. The analysis included a single sample from 17 college students and 35 samples from five volunteers collected at intervals of three to five days throughout the menstrual cycle. Mean concentrations in all 52 specimens were 108.1 aerobic bacteria/g and 109.1 anaerobic bacteria/g. The rank of predominant organisms, according to rates of recovery in concentrations of >105 colony-forming units/g, was anaerobic and facultative Lactobacillus species, Peptococcus species, Bacteroides species, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Corynebacterium species, Peptostreptococcus species, and Eubacterium species. Sequential samples collected throughout the menstrual cycle showed relatively consistent mean levels of anaerobes and a significant decrease in concentrations of aerobes in premenstrual specimens compared with those in the specimens collected in the week following onset of menses. Analysis of sequential specimens from each of the five individuals showed considerable variation in species recovered. These data indicate that the vaginal flora in healthy adult women is a dynamic ecosystem in which anaerobes are usually the numerically dominant bacteria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-277
Number of pages7
JournalUnknown Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1977
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Infectious Diseases


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