In the United States, 21.2 million women between ages 14-49 have struggled with BV (bacterial vaginosis) at once. Most women have no symptoms while others mistake the symptoms as a yeast infection.
In a healthy vagina, good vaginal bacteria stop harmful bacteria from reproducing. If there's a disturbance in the balance, the harmful bacteria begin to take over.
They, therefore, cause the infection of bacterial vaginosis. It then leads to a foul odor, vaginal discharge, itching, and painful urination from the vagina.
The bacterial vaginal infection is most common in women who use douches and sexually active women.Actually, bacterial vaginosis can sometimes clear up on its own, but if you experience any of the symptoms above, you should see a doctor.
This article explains bacterial vaginosis home remedies to help you properly treat and eliminate the infection.
12 Best Home Remedies for Bacterial Vaginosis
Below are some home remedies to treat bacterial vaginosis:
Yogurt has plenty of healthy bacteria and is categorized as a natural probiotic. Thus, having yogurt helps introduce beneficial bacteria into your body. That way, you establish a balanced environment in the vagina that helps fight the unwanted bacteria.
One serving per day is advised if you want to achieve the full benefits.
There are different types of healthy yogurt in the market:
- Non-dairy yogurt: Alternatives include coconut milk and soy yogurt
- Frozen yogurt: It is a healthy alternative to ice cream
- Skyr: The Icelandic-style yogurt is high in protein, creamy, and dense. It requires four times the amount needed for regular yogurt and has 2-3 times more protein
- Greek yogurt: Mostly used for Mediterranean-style dips and cooking. The yogurt is creamy and thick
- Kefir: You can make kefir yogurt at home by adding kefir grains to milk and leaving it for 12-24 hours. It contains reasonable amounts of probiotics
- Non-fat or low-fat: Fat-reduced yogurt has 2% milk, and non-fat yogurt has zero skim milk
Keep in mind that you should never put yogurt in your vagina. Doing so only worsens the symptoms and promotes bacterial growth.
Garlic or Garlic Supplements
There are several compounds in garlic that are naturally antibacterial. Diallyl sulfide, one of the compounds, is a hundred times more effective in fighting the campylobacter bacterium than two popular antibiotics.
Garlic supplements have similar therapeutic properties that treat BV, such as oral antibiotics or metronidazole. In a 2014 study, participants with bacterial vaginosis took oral metronidazole or a garlic supplement for seven days. Participants in the study took 500 mg garlic tablets twice every day for seven days to alleviate the symptoms. Both treatments had similar effects, yet there were fewer side effects with the garlic supplements. As always, remember that before you take any form of medication, consult with your doctor.
When using garlic as medicine, you have to mince or crush it ten minutes before using it. That is how long it takes the chemicals to create antibacterial properties.
Also, please note that the above information relates only to oral garlic supplements. You should never place garlic or garlic supplements around or in your vagina.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil provides powerful antifungal and antibacterial properties that help treat bacterial vaginosis. A study showed successful treatment of BV using only tea tree oil. That said, there's a need for more studies about the treatment of bacterial vaginosis using tea tree oil.
When using tea tree oil, you should dilute it using a carrier oil such as sweet almond, olive or coconut oil. Pick the oil that best suits you and mix five to ten drops of the oil with 1 ounce of your carrier oil of choice.
Avoid using pure tea tree oil because it can burn your skin. Some people are allergic to tea tree oil and you never know how it would react to you.
Thus, before you try this home treatment option, test a small portion of the diluted oil on your skin before using it on your sensitive vaginal tissue. If you don't get a reaction in 24-48 hours, it is safe to use.
Additionally, you can buy tea tree oil suppositories online.
In a study patients applied a vaginal cream infused with pot marigold. The results indicated that the herb effectively treated bacterial vaginosis as metronidazole does.
Here are more herbs that could help you in preventing and treating BV:
- Echinacea: it may help reduce inflammation and attack harmful bacteria directly
- Lavender: use the lavender flower and oil in treating vaginal infections
- Oil of oregano: the herb helps prevent bacterial infections
- Neem oil: the neem tree, seeds, bark, and leaves make medicine. The medicine helps kill bacteria
- Goldenseal: this herb found in North America contains berberine which may help with bacteria and fungi
- Grapefruit seeds extract: the extracts, fruit, and oil from the peel are used to treat bacterial vaginosis
Several probiotic supplements are available in the market. Yogurt also contains probiotics. According to a review in 2014 that focused on the effect of probiotics on BV, there’s proof that probiotic supplements help prevent and treat bacterial vaginosis.
You can, therefore, take probiotics every day to help prevent and treat any future cases of bacterial vaginosis. That said, there are probiotics in liquid or pill form. Antibiotics kill harmful bacteria together with good bacteria.
In addition, studies show that probiotic supplements containing RC-14 and GR-1 help prevent bacterial vaginosis. Expert research shows that these two strains help maintain vaginal balance by sticking to the surface. Thus, they make it difficult for harmful bacteria to thrive.
Furthermore, the strains may directly attach to the harmful bacteria and then kill them, preventing further spreading.
However, a section of experts recommends the consumption of whole foods as opposed to supplements. For example, yogurt containing live cultures is the best source of probiotics.
A few studies suggest that using a vaginal wash containing hydrogen peroxide helps restore vaginal pH, improve discharge, and clear vaginal odor in bacterial vaginosis patients. A vaginal wash containing 3% hydrogen peroxide increases your chances of clearing the infection.
Using an ounce of hydrogen peroxide for one week as vaginal irrigation helps treat bacterial vaginosis as effectively as traditional medication. Its most significant advantage is its lower cost than other medications. Additionally, it has fewer side effects.
For better results, experts recommend using hydrogen peroxide for an extended period. Even when the symptoms clear, you can use it for more days to make sure the infection clears.
However, if symptoms do not resolve or reduce within a week, you need to make an appointment with the gynecologist. Also, if the bacterial vaginosis is recurrent, you need to see your doctor.
However, as with many other home remedies, this is not enough evidence to confirm that hydrogen peroxide works.
Boric acid is a natural chemical used as a home remedy for treating vaginal infections. The colorless powder has both antiviral and antifungal properties in its natural form.
An earlier study shows that combining boric acid with antimicrobial therapy treats recurrent bacterial vaginosis.
Boric acid is safe when used in the vagina and is as effective as some of the medical approaches of BV treatment.
You can get flower power boric acid suppositories and medications such as tinidazole or metronidazole to help with bacterial vaginosis.
However, more research needs to be conducted to assess how boric acid will assist in the complete treatment of bacterial vaginosis.
But first, you need to consult your doctor before combining any medication and home remedies.
It is crucial to note that boric acid is poisonous and should not be ingested. Therefore, you should keep it away from animals and children. It is also not safe for expectant women.
Apple Cider Vinegar
There are suggestions that apple cider vinegar can treat BV. Some studies demonstrate:
- Treatments containing lactic acid offer some benefits in treating bacterial vaginosis, and ACV contains lactic acid
- Apple cider vinegar is effective in treating vaginal candidiasis
- According to a study, apple cider vinegar shows antimicrobial tendencies on C. albicans, S. aureus, and E-coli
Therefore, because apple cider vinegar is acidic and has antimicrobial effects, natural healers suggest that you should rinse the vulva in an ACV and water solution to alleviate symptoms. Also, there is an indication that acidifying the vagina could hold some promise for the long-term prevention of the infection.
However, in as much as apple cider vinegar is suggested for treating BV, there's a need for further research before we can draw a scientifically sound conclusion.
If you intend to use ACV as part of the bacterial vaginosis treatment, talk to your health practitioner about the advantages and disadvantages before deciding.
Some women believe that douching will make them cleaner. In the real sense, though, chances are that it will disrupt your natural vaginal pH. It, therefore, increases your chances of getting an infection.
The vagina self-cleans, and using a douche destabilizes the natural environment. If your symptoms do not clear or reduce in one week of home treatment, make an appointment with your gynecologist. If there is a recurrent infection, you also need to see the doctor.
Seek the advice of a doctor if your symptoms persist.
Bacterial vaginosis is most common in sexually active women, even though the exact cause is unknown. As home to organisms that maintain the chemical pH and vaginal health, the vagina is vulnerable to infections if there is a bacterial or pH change.
There are sexual practices that tamper with the normal bacteria balance in the vagina and therefore play a role in the development of bacterial vaginosis.
Here are strategies you need to use to lower the risk:
- Urinate immediately after sex: after urination, clean the vulva and vagina with clean water
- Use barrier protection: condoms and other forms of barrier protection for the different types of penetrative sex reduce your chances of contracting BV
- Avoid switching from anal to vaginal sex: you need to change condoms before switching from anal to vaginal sex
If you suspect you have BV, use barrier protection or abstain from sex until you’re completely healed.
The vagina cleans itself naturally. It, therefore, doesn't need the use of perfumes, soaps, and douches. When you use the products, you risk altering the vaginal pH.
To reduce the risks of contracting bacterial vaginosis, the following hygiene practices may help:
- Wash your hands before touching the vagina
- Keep the vaginal area dry to avoid vaginal odor during pregnancy
- Wear breathable cotton panties
- Clean the vagina with water only
- Avoid using douches
- Avoid perfumed vaginal products
Additionally, always wipe yourself front to back when using the bathroom. Also, note that bacteria love a hot and wet environment. Keep yourself dry to avoid the chance of getting infected.
Breathable Cotton Underwear
Spandex and other types of underwear may not be as breathable as cotton underwear. Wearing non-cotton underwear may trap moisture leading to the growth of harmful bacteria. Consequently, it leads to worsening bacterial vaginosis.
That is why, to prevent bacterial vaginosis and to help heal quickly if you have the infection, you need to wear breathable cotton underwear.
Additionally, you need to avoid wearing tight pants.
Other rules that apply to wearing your underwear the right way include:
- Aim to change your underwear every day, maybe even more than once, when you can
- Sleep without your underwear at night so that you can keep the area moisture-free
- Do not wear underwear that is too tight, hence not breathable
- Thongs are also appropriate because they do not affect aerobic microflora, the skin microclimate, and the pH. Hygiene choices and sexual behavior are the leading causes of BV
- Use hypoallergenic soap to wash your underwear
- Consider buying new underwear every year
The primary treatment for bacterial vaginosis is antibiotics. However, you may choose to treat it at home.
Therefore, the home remedies above, including hygiene, using herbs, and taking probiotic supplements, will help alleviate your symptoms.
However, if any of the symptoms above persist, you need to contact your doctor before taking any other action.
Choose a day that you are not on your period because it allows the medical practitioner to take a swab of the vaginal discharge for tests.
Alternatively, if you suspect it is a mild case of bacterial vaginosis, you can resolve it on your own by using some home remedies.
If it does not resolve in two weeks or keeps going away and recurring, consult your doctor for medication.