At any given point of time, your vagina hosts millions of bacteria, most of them being “lactobacillus bacteria” - good bacteria - Thank God for that!
Good bacteria guard and prevent the growth of “anaerobic bacteria” - bad bacteria. A healthy body is well equipped to maintain the bacterial balance and keep things hunky dory down there. But when this balance conks off, the bad bacteria outnumber the good bacteria. This leads to inflammation in the vagina known as bacterial vaginosis. (4)
Bacterial vaginosis is the most common type of vaginal infection, (1) with only yeast infection coming in as a close second. Though the condition is not life-threatening, and some women might not show any symptoms at all, for some it can be a really unpleasant experience.
- Causes of Bacterial Vaginosis
- Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis
- Preventing Bacterial Vaginosis
- Home Treatment for Bacterial Vaginosis
- Method 1: Take Acidophilus Supplement
- Method 2: Apply Hydrogen Peroxide
- Method 3: Take Folic Acid Supplements
- Method 4: Garlic
- Method 5: Yogurt
- Method 6: Apple Cider Vinegar
- Method 7: Use Vitamin C with Rosehips
- Method 8: Use Boric Acid
- Tips to keep in mind
Causes of Bacterial Vaginosis
- Unprotected sex
- Sex with a new partner or multiple partners
- Excessive use of antibiotics that can kill both the good and bad bacteria
Symptoms of Bacterial Vaginosis
The most prominent symptom is the vaginal odor, which can easily permeate through your clothes and can be an embarrassment. Other symptoms include:
- Burning, which aggravates during urination
- Grayish white or yellow discharge
- ‘Fishy’ odor that worsens after sex
- Tenderness or pain in the vaginal area
- Pain during sex
The symptoms listed above can also be caused by a yeast infection; so, consult your doctor if you experience such symptoms.
Preventing Bacterial Vaginosis
- Use condom while having sex
- Avoid having multiple sex partners
- Avoid douching to maintain bacterial balance in the vagina
- Ensure proper hygiene
- Wear cotton underwear and pants to allow airflow and prevent moist conditions that can become a breeding ground for bacteria
- Eat probiotic-rich food to maintain the bacterial colony in your digestive tract and your vagina
- Avoid processed foods, excess sugar, and carbs, as they create a perfect environment for the anaerobic bacteria to flourish and cause inflammation.
Home Treatment for Bacterial Vaginosis
If it happens to be bacterial vaginosis, there are a number of home remedies that can come to aid.
Read on to know the simple home remedies that can help you get relief from bacterial vaginosis.
Also, if you're pregnant or nursing, it is advisable to consult a Gynecologist or your Obstetrician before trying out any home remedy.
Method 1: Take Acidophilus Supplement
To fight bacterial vaginosis, you need to keep the pH level of your vagina acidic by boosting the numbers of Lactobacillus bacteria. (2) Acidophilus supplements do just that. Opt for ones that contain live cultures. High potency acidophilus supplements contain 1 billion live cultures and can be easily found at any health food store or in the vitamin isle of your grocery store. Some popular brand names are Acidophilus, Bacid, Flora-Q, and Novaflor.
- Take 2 tablets daily for a week to get rid of the infection. If you can’t find high potency tablet with 1 billion live cultures, consume 2 tablets of 50 million live cultures.
- For quicker results, you can also crush a tablet and make a paste with water. Apply the paste on your vaginal area. It need not be inserted as the bacteria will travel on its own.
Acidophilus supplements will show immediate results, but continue to take them for a week to cure bacterial vaginosis completely.
Method 2: Apply Hydrogen Peroxide
Your vagina naturally produces hydrogen peroxide to create a hostile environment for the bad bacteria. Using a hydrogen peroxide cleanse helps disinfect the vaginal cavity without affecting the good bacteria, thus providing relief in bacterial vaginosis symptoms.
In fact, hydrogen peroxide is also considered a good treatment for herpes.
Step 1. Dilute hydrogen peroxide with distilled water
- Pour 2 to 3 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide in a bowl.
- Add an equal amount of water and stir.
Step 2. Cleanse your vagina with the solution twice a day
- Dip a cotton ball in the solution and swab it around your vagina.
- Wait for 10 minutes, and then rinse with water.
It will give you immediate relief from the musty smell and vaginal discharge. Continue to apply it twice daily for a week to get relief from the infection completely.
You can also insert diluted hydrogen peroxide soaked tampons in your vagina for 30 minutes twice a day.
Method 3: Take Folic Acid Supplements
Folic acid, also known as folate, found naturally in foods, helps fortify your immune system and keep infections at bay. (3) Taking folic supplements, along with hydrogen peroxide cleanse and acidophilus supplements, works effectively in curing bacterial vaginosis than only taking a folic acid supplement.
Folic acid also helps build resistance against the invading bacteria. As a bonus, it will also help you to increase your hemoglobin count.
- Take an 800-mcg tablet once a day or divide the dosage to 400 mcg twice along with probiotics (acidophilus supplement) and hydrogen peroxide cleanse to cure bacterial vaginosis within a week.
- You can also increase your consumption of folate-rich foods such as dark leafy vegetables, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, beans, and lentils.
Method 4: Garlic
Garlic is touted to be way more powerful than any antibiotic. Garlic contains allicin that gives it antibacterial properties to treat bacterial vaginosis. (5)
If consumed on a daily basis (in raw or cooked form), the antibiotic properties of garlic will work inside out and also boost your immune system, protecting you from minor cold and flu. Crushed garlic can also be used to treat genital warts.
Single-Step Treatment: Insert a garlic clove into your vagina
- Take a garlic pod and remove its outer paper-like skin.
- Insert it in your vagina in the night. You can also tie a thin string or floss around the clove for easy retrieval.
- You can make slits in the clove to quickly release the juices.
- Leave it overnight.
- Remove the garlic in the morning before taking a shower.
You will notice positive results after the very first night. Continue the treatment for a week to cure the condition completely.
Method 5: Yogurt
Yogurt is a natural source of lactobacillus bacteria that help restore the good bacteria in your vagina and maintain its pH balance. (7) You can either apply it directly into your vagina or eat yogurt every day to treat bacterial vaginosis.
Remember to opt for plain yogurt only, as flavored yogurt won’t be effective in treating the infection. Also, read the label when buying yogurt. Opt for one that has live cultures in it.
Single-Step Treatment: Apply yogurt inside your vagina
- Dip a tampon in plain yogurt for 10 minutes.
- Insert the tampon up your vagina and leave it in for 2 to 3 hours.
- Alternatively, you can apply the yogurt directly into your vagina with your fingers. Make sure to wear panty liners or maxi pads, as yogurt will spoil your clothes.
- Repeat the process 3 to 4 times a day.
You may see the symptoms alleviating after the very first attempt. Continue the treatment for a week to cure the infection completely.
Method 6: Apple Cider Vinegar
Acidic apple cider vinegar has been widely used to treat bacterial vaginosis. However, there is no scientific data to support why is it useful.
Use only the organic and unfiltered variety that has the mother in it. The mother contains all the beneficial bacteria.
Also, drinking apple cider vinegar on a regular basis can be effective in preventing bacterial vaginosis in the first place. Drinking apple cider vinegar is also beneficial in treating a urinary tract infection.
Step 1. Dilute apple cider vinegar with distilled water
- Mix 1 part of apple cider vinegar with 2 parts of distilled water.
- It is preferable to use distilled water to avoid any contaminant entering your vaginal cavity.
Step 2. Apply diluted apple cider vinegar in and around your vaginal area
- Soak a cotton ball in the solution and swab it in and around the vagina.
- Alternatively, you can add a 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar to bathwater and soak in it for 30 minutes.
You will get immediate relief from burning and irritation with this remedy. Do it once every day, and the infection will be cured in 2 to 3 weeks.
Method 7: Use Vitamin C with Rosehips
Vitamin C helps in increasing immunity. When it comes to bacterial vaginosis, taking vitamin C with rosehips, orally or intravaginally, can help relieve the symptoms after just one night.
Intake of vitamin C should not be a regular process, as it can cause burning and discomfort.
- Insert one 1000 mg tablet into your vagina and leave it in overnight.
- If you are not comfortable, inserting it up your vagina, you can also take 1000 mg of vitamin C with rosehips orally twice a day.
The insertion method will give you relief from the odor after a single use. However, you need to repeat every day for a week to cure the condition completely.
You can also do this treatment once a week as a preventative measure once the condition is fully cured.
Method 8: Use Boric Acid
Boric acid is another safe, effective, and inexpensive remedy to cure bacterial vaginosis. Boric acid is naturally antibacterial and antifungal. (8)
Things you’ll need:
- Boric acid (antibacterial and antifungal properties)
- Size-0 empty gel capsule
Single-Step Treatment: Insert boric acid filled gel capsule in your vagina
- Take a gel capsule and spoon in some boric acid to fill the capsule completely.
- Insert this capsule inside your vagina before sleeping.
- Leave it overnight.
- Cleanse your vagina with lukewarm warm water the next morning.
Repeat the remedy once every night, and it should cure the condition in 7 to 10 days.
Tips to keep in mind
- Wait until your periods get over before starting any home remedy. The menstrual blood is alkaline in nature and can deter your efforts of stabilizing the pH level in your vagina.
- Keep a check on you vaginal pH levels to identify any potential infection before it takes its full course.
- Avoid bathing in bathtubs if you are suffering from bacterial vaginosis. Even if you do, clean your bathtub with hydrogen peroxide to disinfect it.
- Using a cold compress after every hour will help to soothe the burning.
- Wear loose cotton panties with panty liners to maintain hygiene during bacterial vaginosis.
- Also, change panty liner after every 2 to 4 hours.
- Avoid having sex during the infection as it can make things worse.
- Allsworth J, Peipert J. Prevalence of Bacterial Vaginosis. Obstetrics & Gynecology. https://insights.ovid.com/crossref?an=00006250-200701000-00018. Published January 1, 2007.
- Anukam KC, Osazuwa E, Osemene GI, Ehigiagbe F, Bruce AW, Reid G. Clinical study comparing probiotic Lactobacillus GR-1 and RC-14 with metronidazole vaginal gel to treat symptomatic bacterial vaginosis. Microbes and Infection. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1286457906003030?via=ihub. Published September 11, 2006.
- Dunlop, Anne L. T, N. R, et al. Maternal Vitamin D, Folate, and Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Status and Bacterial Vaginosis during Pregnancy. Advances in Decision Sciences. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/idog/2011/216217/. Published December 8, 2011.
- Klebanoff MA, Schwebke JR, Jun Z, Nansel T, Yu K-F, Andrews WW. Vulvovaginal Symptoms in Women With Bacterial Vaginosis : Obstetrics & Gynecology. Obstetrics and Gynecology. http://journals.lww.com/greenjournal/Fulltext/2004/08000/Vulvovaginal_Symptoms_in_Women_With_Bacterial.11.aspx. Published September 2004.
- Mohammadzadeh F, Dolatian M, Jorjani M, Majd HA, Borumandnia N. Comparing the Therapeutic Effects of Garlic Tablet and ... Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4166107/. Published July 5, 2014.
- O'Hanlon DE, Moench TR, Cone RA. In vaginal fluid, bacteria associated with bacterial vaginosis can be suppressed with lactic acid but not hydrogen peroxide. BMC Infectious Diseases. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21771337. Published July 19, 2011.
- Sobel JD, Chaim W, Nagappan V, Leaman D. Treatment of vaginitis caused by Candida glabrata: use of topical boric acid and flucytosine. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002937803007269. Published November 21, 2003.
Summary of How to Get Relief from Bacterial Vaginosis
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